Blessed Are the Persecuted

Readings for Monday June 7, 2010

First Reading: 1 Kings 17:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 121
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,

for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt. 5:1-12)

Poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, persecuted ... are these typical things that people strive for in the world? Are these traits highly regarded among people today? We know that they are not, in fact the world tell us to strive for the opposite; be strong, do what you want to do, love only yourself and think of yourself, go with the flow, don't be different, etc. The beatitudes that Jesus taught His disciples are just as relevant today as they were when Jesus first spoke those words in His sermon on the mount. While the world tells us that these traits are not important and make us weak, we know that it is by striving for these traits that we can live a full life and get to heaven. This is what we should strive for, no matter what anyone else thinks, says or does.

Now, Jesus knows that these are not the most popular traits in the world, and in fact they are certainly not easy to strive for either. That is why He follow up talking about the beatitudes by warning us that by following His ways others will insult and persecute us. And what should our reaction be to this? We should rejoice! Now, I know what you are thinking, "rejoice" ... be happy over being insulted and persecuted? It doesn't seem logical, but the reality is that even though we are going to go through some pretty tough times because of our faith, we should rejoice because we have a great reward in heaven waiting for those who are willing to abandon worldly ways, pick up their cross and follow Christ.

Jesus told us that they also persecuted the prophets, and as we know many Christians throughout history and even today are persecuted because of their faith. Christ does not promise us that this will be easy, we only have the promise that it will be worth it in the end.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given us in our life. Thank you for our lives, help us to not seek out the world, but rather seek your will and your ways. Lord, you are so faithful to us, help us remain close and faithful to you. Lord, send us your Spirit so that we may receive the gift of courage to continue to persevere and fight the good fight. We pray for all of our priests, that they may be strengthened in their ministries. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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