The readings today at first glance are anything but up-lifting. The gospel in particular is Jesus promising the crowds that if they follow him not only will they suffer at the hands of strangers but even their own family members may well turn against them. And yet, many still followed him.
Phrases like "No pain, no gain" sound fine to us as long as it refers to pain which we choose, like how hard we will work out at the gym, or how strictly we diet. In those cases we remain in control and can quit whenever we want. The suffering Jesus is talking about is the suffering that we cannot control.
We may not be able to control the attacks or the suffering, but we can choose how we respond to it. St. Luke ends today by saying,
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.
The greek word for perseverance means to stay under. On the one hand it can sound like resignation. But if we look deeper it is a capacity to maintain your inner peace, stillness, and serenity when you are hypo (under), under pressure, under attack, under the weight of some enormous problem.
In all the press about the Pope's comments regarding neurotic priests what may have gotten missed was the model he gave,
"A priest who is a peaceful man will know how to spread serenity around himself even in the those exhausting moments, by sharing the beauty of a relationship with Lord."
The perseverance of which Jesus speaks is that serenity that can be found in any situation if we will truly allow ourselves to be enveloped in a loving relationship with the Lord.