Blessed are Those Who are Persecuted (Beatitudes Part VIII )

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ( Matthew 5:10)
Persecution is the hostility and separation of a group because of their faith ( among other things).

People of faith have been persecuted from the beginnings of recorded time. This is nothing really new.  The evil in the world would like to vanquish the light of God within the human world.    The interesting part of this is that the battles against persecution arise and ultimately end within the human soul.  Ultimately the battle for the human soul is the place where the beginning and end of persecution resides.

The Hebrews became slaves, persecuted and hated, the people of different faiths of the Holocost, and in our current world, people of various faiths all are persecuted and made to suffer because of their mal-formed consciences and misguided leaders.

Throughout the history of the Church there has been an honor roll of Martyrs and Saints who have suffered and died for the sake of the Kingdom of God.    Too often people have entered into Wars, and persecuted others for what has been fed to them as what is “right” or “just”.  Out of fear, or jealousy,or greed or an entire laundry list of sins that stain the soul of man.
History is written by the victors, but if there is no one left of those who are persecuted then the stories would not survive.

There is a television show that ends with the line from Mark Twain – “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” the rest of the  quote reads ..” and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts”.
Now consider for a moment why this might be true.  Going outside of what is familiar.  This forces is to look at our world differently.   It causes us to encounter others where they are, in their element.   It causes us to relate and communicate at sometimes the most basic levels for our most basic needs.  Understanding, communication, and relationship building skills are necessary in order to survive in the world outside of our own.

So how do we know what is “righteousness” ?  This tends to be the subject of debate amongst theologians who then have to consider some subject matters which would be much deeper and involved than I will go into here.  Righteousness is a quality, and property if you will that attaches to the soul.  Ontological, or :”real” righteousness, this requires a bit of understanding of the Churches understanding of salvation or justification before God.  We are justified in two ways.. there is the initial justification that occurs when we are Baptized and enter the Church, and then an on-going justification that occurs throughout the  life of the Christian.   During the on-going life of the Christian, we both commit sin, and do good works.  Both of these actions attach themselves to our souls.    Fortunately, we have the sacrament of Reconcilliation to assist us in overcoming the sin which is on our soul.

Now, if we are persecuted, for our faith, or persecuted because of the actions that are borne of our love of God and neighbor, then it is possible to be blessed because of it.  The pivital point becomes what our reactions are to the persecution.

If we are persecuted by another person or group, and we commit murder thus ending the persecution, are we blessed ?

If we sin, in the course of persecution are we blessed ?   Can we still be righteous and sin ?

Well, the short answer would be no.    When you begin to stop and measure the degrees to which you are righteous and the degree to which you sin, or the degree of your response to it, then you enter into attempting to make all things within the “grey area” of what you consider “right” and “wrong”.   A well formed conscience provides us the knowledge that there is sin and there is good.
THe remedy for sin becomes the sacraments and a life lived in the light of God and good works of faith, hope and love.

If your response to persecution, is love, then you will be truly “blessed”.

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

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