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PERSECUTED FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST
Fr. Steven Scherrer,
Homily of Thursday, 29th Week of the Year, October 25, 2012
Eph. 3:14-21, Ps. 32, Luke 12:49-53


"Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division" (Luke 12:51).


We know very well that Jesus came to bring peace on earth, heavenly peace. At his birth the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14 KJV). And to his disciples he said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27).


But this heavenly peace on earth that Christ gives us is also mixed at the present time with persecution for being his disciples in a world that is far from him. Christ's word changes us and makes us and our way of life very different from that of the world, and so the world persecutes us, for it sees that we have rejected its lifestyle, its false values, and its ways. The world rejects what is different from itself, and so it persecutes us for our faith in Christ and for our new way of life. "I have given them they 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). Because of Christ a Christian no longer participates in the worldliness of the world, and so he is hated for his new way of life. The worldly live "in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you do not now join them in the same wild profligacy, and they abuse you" (1 Pet. 4:3-4).


Such is the Christian life. We are no longer of the world. We have left and renounced the lifestyle of the world-its endless quest after pleasure-and so the world hates us. Therefore "do not wonder, brethren, that the world hates you" (1 John 3:13), for "indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). In fact, "you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (Matt. 10:22). So "when they persecute you in one town, flee to the next" (Matt. 10:23).


It is because we are not of the world and because our way of living is different from that of the world that the world hates us. It is because we now live in simplicity and evangelical poverty and seek to love God with all our heart and reserve our heart for him, finding all our delight in him and not dividing our heart among the delights of this world that the world persecutes us. "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:19).


St. Paul and the other apostles were persecuted by the world. "For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men ... When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things" (1 Cor. 4:9, 12-13). Such is the apostolic life; and it will be our life too if we give witness to our faith before the world. As Christ was persecuted, so will we be persecuted. "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you" (John 15:20).


But we will be rewarded if we suffer persecution for the sake of Christ. "If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him" (2 Tim. 2:11-12). We are "heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (Rom. 8:17).

 

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