“He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt. 10:22) There are three huge elements to consider in this short verse: endurance, the end, and salvation. What is meant by this endurance? What is the end? Both of these are tied to the ultimate truth of the Incarnation, indeed, the reason for it: our salvation.
Endurance. The kind of endurance spoken of here has to do with ultimate things. It is an endurance that must be practiced and lived in every moment of every day, to the end. The people, the events, the temptations that attempt to draw us away from God in this world are manifold and relentless. This kind of endurance can only come from an abiding faith in the eternal, present, loving fidelity of God. It arises out of that faith. With this faith in Jesus Christ, we can endure the small and the great challenges that inevitably come our way in our personal, our family, our work and our social lives. It gives us the ability to endure the emotional, psychological and the physical pains that are the result of unjust words and actions toward us. In the case of Matthew’s time, that faith made it possible for those who believed to even endure the threats of persecution and the reality of martyrdom. There are many Christians in the world today that are still facing those realities.
What was the “end” that Jesus refers to here in Matthew? Certainly “to the end” referred to the parousia. But he was aware of the coming persecutions as well. Matthew was personally aware of those persecutions and martyrdoms. For him, and for us, “the end” can include the end of one’s own life. So both the idea of the parousia and the end of one’s personal life here on earth are intended here. If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he is the Messiah, then, like him, we will find much of this world, and many of the people of this world, will be against us. We will have to endure things like indifference, ridicule, anger, rejection and threats to our religious rights and freedoms, maybe even to our very lives and the lives of those we love. How are we to endure these things? In accord with Jesus’ life and teachings, we are to endure these things with kindness, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. We are to pray for our persecutors, to the end. We are to give our lives in service to the forgotten and the wounded of the world, to the end. This requires an endurance that can only come from grace. That grace is freely given to us when we believe and live in accord with our faith in Jesus Christ.
And what is the reward for enduring to the end? Nothing less than the salvation won for us by Jesus on the cross. If we believe that Jesus died for us, that he forgives our sins and has opened the doors to Paradise for us again, we have every reason to live our daily lives with faithful endurance. Our willingness to endure to the end is evidence of our faith. And we can endure because we know the reason for our hope, Jesus Christ.
Lord, give us the graces we need to endure the small and the great challenges to our faith that this world throws at us every day. We believe, help our unbelief. We are weak, but with your love and your grace we can be strong. We desire in the depths of our souls the endure to the end, to thereby enter into our salvation and to live with you forever. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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