From Simply Living The Beatitudes
Blessed are you when people 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 in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)
As we pray and meditate on the teachings of the beatitudes, one thing that becomes immediately evident to us is the fact that all the beatitudes are closely related. We cannot consider one beatitude isolated from the others. Jesus proclaimed the beatitudes as a way of life for his disciples, for all his followers. And as we heed the call from the Master, we his followers must humbly, simply, and in all earnestness learn to incorporate all of the beatitudes into our own personal lives. This is the great challenge the beatitudes present to each of us.
When we consider this particular beatitude and all its implications, we realize that no sensible person, no one among us in the right mind, makes the choice to be persecuted and to suffer. It is not in our nature to be masochistic or to seek insults and slander. And I don’t think this is what Jesus was saying as he uttered this beatitude. What I think he implied on this particular beatitude – and he gave us the example of his own actions as proof – is that there are times when God allows us to undergo the experience of suffering and persecution for the sake of our own good, sometimes for the welfare of others, and, of course, always for the sake of the kingdom of God. There is forever a cost to all true discipleship, and Jesus didn’t mince words when we counseled his disciples that in order to follow him they must also take up the cross as he did himself. Jesus, the son of the living God, was rejected, calumniated, persecuted, forced to carry the cross, and even died crucified on it – all for the sake of reconciling the world, each of us sinners, to the Father. He accepted to be condemned by his fellow men and crucified by the Romans for the sake of our salvation. Through his own personal sufferings, he wished to open the doors to the kingdom for all and for all time.
Sometimes we are asked why bad things happen to good people who faithfully try to follow the Lord. I always respond humbly and with simplicity that this is a great mystery. But it is a mystery that hides behind the unfathomable love of God. For if God the Father, who infinitely and tenderly loved his own son, allowed him to undergo such human suffering to the very end of his life, there must be a divine motive or reason behind all redemptive suffering. God does not wish to impose suffering on us out of vengeance of chastisement of any other human reason. The only reason he allows it or permits it in our lives is because at the end, a greater good comes out of it. Jesus suffered intensely during his Passion, from the agony in the garden to his last breath on the cross, but out of all that came the priceless gift of our redemption, the reconciliation of humanity, and the whole world with God, its author and creator.
Gospel simplicity provides the grace, the strength, and the motivation to endure the mystery of suffering when the Lord permits it in our lives. We shall never know with certainty the real reason for its role in our lives, but one thing we can be sure of is God’s infinite love for each of us. The Father, in allowing us to share in the sufferings and persecution Jesus went through for our sake, brings us closer in union and deeper conformity with his only begotten son, the son who is the source of his eternal joy. And as true disciples of the Lord, called to endure from time-to-time the pain and mystery of the cross, we must always keep in mind that at the end, the joy of the resurrection awaits each of us. Per crucem ad lucem. May the Lord grant that one day, through the pain of the cross, we will arrive safely to the joy of eternal Light.
Blessed are you, merciful Father. You sent
to the world your beloved son, the Lamb of
God, to endure the sufferings of the cross and
thus accomplish the redemption of your people.
Grant through his passion and cross that
we be delivered from darkness and all evil.
Give us strength to continue our journey
toward the glory of the resurrection.
We ask this in Jesus’s name.
Lord Jesus Christ,
Our Savior and Divine Master,
You are the holy one of Israel, the light of the world,
the life that sustains our lives
and the truth that enlightens
our minds and hearts
on our way to the Father.
We seek to follow your example
by striving to live the beatitudes
in true Gospel simplicity.
We know from your teachings
that the practice of the beatitudes,
challenging as they may be,
are part and parcel of true discipleship
and an essential part of being a Christian.
Send your Holy Spirit upon us
to fortify us and to give us the wisdom,
the courage, and the incentive
to choose always the amazing and humble
way of the beatitudes.
In all things,
we wish and pray to be like you, our Master and guide,
leading true God-centered lives
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit
and the daily practice of the beatitudes.
Have Mercy upon us, Lord,
and bestow upon us your blessing
that we may always seek to imitate and
on our journey home towards God.