Grace to you!
The Blessed Lord declared: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:10).
Elaborating this Eighth Beatitude, the Lord Jesus made the following promise. "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Mt 5:11-12).
There are two classes of people on the way to the heavenly kingdom. First are those who finally inherit heaven. The second are those who veer off the right path to heaven. People in this group miss the way.
Those who inherit heaven have a sort of thick skin to persecutions. Persecutions don't deter them from what is right and good. Instead, they see in persecutions, ingredients for their resolve, and fidelity to what is right.
Persecutions come in various forms, such as insults, ridicules, slander, gossip, betrayals, verbal and physical attacks and abuse, full-blown violence, deprivation of rights and privileges, favoritism, and in-his-face injustice. For the winner, the righteousness, the form persecutions take doesn't matter since the righteous are focused on the Lord's ways and have a strong backbone to fight on.
Are you persecuted? Those persecutions may, after all, be character builders for you. As Saint Paul said, "suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character" (Rom 5:3-4). You know the saying: "Whatever that does not kill you strengthens you."
There are some avoidable persecutions. Diligence in avoiding those trials which do not enhance the gospel is prudence. However, there are other persecutions we can’t avoid. Courageous endurance is commendable.
The Eighth Beatitude inspires us to develop a unique attitude or disposition of blessedness. Namely, "rejoice and be glad" because your victory at the end of the tunnel is assured.
Consider the joy you have, a unique kind of joy, to realize that your loved one died in peace, having received the Last Rites and reaffirmed his or her trust in Christ our salvation. Or the joy to know your worries are paid forward by a loved one who took care of the source of your fears. More so is the joy to realize that the Lord of Host is in charge and finds me worthy to be persecuted for his cause. Better suffer for the values you love than live for no values at all.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. No persecution should make us less aware that the victory over our pains is already won. Live as a child of that victory.
We approach suffering in resolute confidence in the victory already won. Using the imagery employed by Pope Benedict XVI in his Encyclical on hope, Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope): It is like a soldier marching onto the battlefield, with a sword in one hand and the rose of victory in the other.
No one would carry a rose onto the battlefield who already has not seen the victory in view. The Lord has already won for us. Though the persecution momentarily rages on, keep your eyes on the victory.
Rejoice and be glad because your sufferings, trials, and persecutions are swallowed up in victory. Christ has already won for you.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday, Week 11, Ordinary Time: Sir 48:1-14; Matthew 6:7-15]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.