Saturday, October 26, 2013

Blessed Are They Who Are Persecuted for the Sake of Righteousness...

It was quite an experience to do my morning exercise in the midst of gusting winds of 25 km/hour, zero-degree wind chill, and drifting rain! But as Fr. Raymond de Souza said in this morning's National Post, it was special to be outdoor in this time of the year when nature itself appeared to be going through a process of dying.

The Toogood Pond was richly adorned with rustic fall colors. Could this be the swan song of nature - its last wail of sadness, as it were - before the arrival of winter? The exercise was a daunting task. Dragging me down was a sensation of heaviness caused not by an over-weighted body but a heart filled with sorrow. There I was, a figure of solitude, huffing and puffing in a world where death was looming large...

Another attack, another setback! Similar attacks and setbacks have happened, well, I don't know how many times in the last year or two - I've lost track...

Despite the hardships and the frustrations, we never rolled over and died, nor did we strike back and respond in kind. Not even once. Our team had decided to follow Jesus' exhortation to accept persecution for the sake of righteousness. We stood our ground; we persisted and continued to pursue our ministry of evangelization for the greater good; we were not afraid to point out our enemy's unjust aggression - both to them and to the authorities concerned, and were steadfast in defending our rights. But not once did we return evil with evil.

I think we've done very well so far. I believe the way we approach this whole trying experience is pleasing to God, who shows his providence by picking us up whenever we're in great distress. As a result, we can take comfort in the sentiments of David, who was unjustly persecuted by his enemies; and together with him we pray:

But I will sing of thy might;
I will sing aloud of thy steadfast love in the morning.
For thou hast been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
(Psalm 59:16-17)

Like David and all humble servants of the Lord who are prepared to suffer for the sake of righteousness, we hear Jesus’ assuring words:

Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)