When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said, ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’
The key words in this Sunday’s readings are faithfulness, endurance and perseverance. The Servant of God Joseph De Piro possessed these virtues. He excelled in perseverance, consistency and determination. When we reflect on his role as Founder and Superior of his new Society, we notice that:
Since before the foundation of the Society, he struggled uninterruptedly for six years, in his attempt to persuade other priests to join him in the establishment of this congregation. After the beginning of the Little Company of St Paul, some members among the Maltese clergy did not understand his idea. The officials at the Dicastery of Propaganda Fide did not understand whether how he could be setting up a Society with an ad gentes purpose, and insist on ministry among Maltese migrants. The members of his Society had to move from one house to another because it was not yet possible for them to start building their own residence until 1932. Many members joined the Society, only to leave it after a few years, even the first member to be ordained to the priesthood left the Society to become a diocesan priest. Yet, faced with all this, De Piro never gave up.