daily biblical sermons


BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHEOUSNESS' SAKE
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, Sixth Week of Easter, May 22, 2017
Acts 16:11-15, Psalm 149, John 15:26-16:4


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God" (John 16:2-3).


Criminals are persecuted for doing wrong. There is no glory or credit in being punished for your crimes and sins.


But the persecution of Christians for their faith is another matter altogether. There is great honor and glory in this kind of persecution. All true Christians will experience this kind of persecution, and Jesus prepares us for it. He says, "You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22).


St. Peter says, "One is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain when suffering unjustly. For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God's approval" (1 Peter 2:19-20). St. Peter also says, "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God" (1 Peter 4:14-16).


To this we have been called. This is our vocation. We are to live for Christ and preach Christ, and for this we will be persecuted by those who do not know Christ or God or God's ways or moral law.


St. John says, "The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him [God]" (1 John 3:1).


As Christians we are no longer of this world. We have renounced false worldly ways and values. Therefore the world hates us and persecutes us. "I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14).


What are the worldly values today that Christians oppose? Abortion, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and transgenderism. These above all are the issues that Christians are publicly battling against in the world today. Those who have taken the side of the world oppose Christians today primarily because of these issues.


To this list we can also add other issues that the world is also attacking today: the indissolubility of marriage, the evil of adultery, and the sacredness of the Eucharist. Christians who uphold these values are also being persecuted today.


The world prefers adultery to the indissolubility of marriage and thinks little of the sacredness of the Eucharist. So those who defend marriage, condemn adultery, and uphold the sacredness of the Eucharist are persecuted by worldly forces today that have even creped into the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.


Active, unrepentant adulterers, living in adulterous unions, of course, cannot receive the Eucharist, nor can they receive sacramental absolution in the sacrament of reconciliation, for they lack repentance and the intention of amending their life and abandoning their gravely sinful way of living.


But now people who defend these truths are being mocked, maligned, and calumniated as rigid, legalistic, pharisaical fundamentalists by those in the hierarchy who have gone the way of the world in this matter. Is this not persecution for the sake of righteousness by those who have not truly known the Father or Christ? "They will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me" (John 16:3).


So what should a Christian do? Should he refuse to give witness to his faith for fear of being mocked, rejected, and calumniated by worldly members of the hierarchy as a rigid, legalistic, pharisaical fundamentalist?


Of course not. This is what we are sent by Christ to do? To bear witness to the truth and to make disciples of all peoples and teach them all that Christ has taught us (Matthew 28:19-20). We are to speak the truth and bear witness to the truth as God has revealed it to us in the Bible, and expect to be vilified, calumniated, and persecuted by the world and by those of worldly mentality who have infiltrated the Church's hierarchy, even to the highest level.


Politicians who oppose false worldly values, such as the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) agenda of sexual perversion and same-sex marriage, which is not marriage at all but rather a gravely sinful sexual perversion and the misuse of God's plan for sexuality, are also being attacked by such pressure groups.


Bakers who refuse to bake wedding cakes for homosexual "marriages" are accused of hate crimes and hate speech, are taken to court and severely fined so that their business is ruined. This is persecution of Christians by those who know neither God nor Christ.


The same is happening with florists and photographers today who courageously witness to God's truth and moral law against homosexual activity by refusing to make flower arrangements or photograph such disgraceful mortally sinful homosexual unions that are in no way even remotely analogous to marriage. They too are taken to court and accused of hate crimes or discrimination or violating people's civil rights or human rights and are also fined so severely that their businesses are ruined.


But the truth is quite different from what the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community thinks it is. They have managed to convince themselves that homosexual activity is a civil right. It is no such thing. No one has a civil right to commit deadly sin, to violate God's moral law, to commit sodomy.


These Christian bakers, florists, and photographers are only following the teaching of the Bible, where St. Paul says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NKJV).


For bearing courageous public witness to God's revealed truth and moral law, these Christians are bitterly and mercilessly attacked and persecuted by those who have rejected God's moral law.


Also political leaders who are openly pro-life are similarly brutally attacked by those who have gone over to the neo-pagan culture that surrounds us, so that pro-life politicians are attacked for even the smallest things. Every word they say is examined under a microscope to see if there can be found in it something which they can be accused of. There are certain news outlets that have dedicated themselves to destroying pro-life political leaders.


But fortunately Christian citizens can see through what these worldly news outlets are doing, and they are not fooled by it.


This, then, is an important aspect of the Christian life - bearing witness to God's revealed truth, his moral law, and being vilified, calumniated, and persecuted for doing so. You will be blessed for bearing such witness and for suffering for your witness at the hands of the worldly who have rejected God's revelation and moral law.


This is what Jesus says about those who suffer such persecution:


"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV).

 

 

 

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