Persecution

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Readings for Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Saint Bernardine of Siena, Priest – Optional Memorial

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“Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”  John 15:20

Do you want to be like Jesus?  If so, beware of what that means.  It’s easy to think that the closer we grow to Christ the more we will be loved and understood by the world.  We can think that everyone will see our holiness and admire it and all will be good and easy in life.

But all we have to do is look at the life of Christ to know this is not the case.  He was obviously perfect in every way.  As a result, He was treated with great malice and persecution.  It’s hard to fathom the dark truth that they actually killed Him.  In the dark of the night, He was arrested, given a mock trial, found guilty and sentenced to death.  His punishment was then carried out immediately.

Why did they do this to the Son of God?  Why would someone so perfect and merciful in every way be so cruelly treated? 

If we were there, as His first followers, we would have most likely been shocked, frightened, scandalized and confused.  We may have thought that Jesus messed up and lost hope in Him.  But His plan was perfect in every way and His plan did centrally involve Him enduring false accusations and malicious persecution.  And by freely accepting this abuse, He redeemed the world.

So back to the original question, “Do you want to be like Jesus?”  This is a tough question when we look at it in the light of what happened to Him.  “No slave is greater than his master.”  “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”  These are tough sayings to accept and agree to. 

Persecution is something from which we should not run.  We should not despair if it happens and we should not hold our head low.  Why?  Because persecution is a clear sign that we are following in the footsteps of our Master.  We are more deeply united to Christ as a result of persecution than we could ever realize.

The key is to know that God intends to use all maltreatment for good if we let Him.  And we let Him use it for good when we surrender it to Him and receive it freely, not begrudgingly.  Our response must be to “rejoice and be glad” that we have been found worthy to follow in the steps of our Divine Lord.

Ponder today any form of persecution or injustice you suffer for the sake of your faith and embrace of the Gospel.  The Lord wants to use that if you let Him.

Lord, I do surrender to You all that weighs me down.  I give any suffering I receive for being Your follower.  May I not only imitate You in Your suffering, but also in Your willing embrace of it.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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