If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series on the beatitudes, click the category “Beatitudes” and start from the beginning! No repeated info. One beatitude builds on the others!
I just love that pefect passive participle in Greek. The only way to translate it correctly is rather clumsy, but rather exhilerating if the truth of my heart be told:
Blessed are the δεδιωγμένοι! which means rather precisely: Blessed are those perfectly continuing to be perfectly persecuted!
Hah! LOL! I just absolutely love that!
I once knew a certain Cardinal (I’ve personally known many!), who boasted that he never once in his life had a disagreement with anyone, never anyone upset with him. Yikes! That’s not the kind of thing I would boast about. Such cynics think that being persecuted is a sign of weakness. This Cardinal in particular said that Jesus’ crucifixion was a failure. He also said that Blessed John Paul II being in a wheelchair was – get this – an embarrassment to the entire Church in front of the whole world, not realizing that his example in suffering was a great blessing for all those who suffer, including me, for I was also in a wheelchair for quite a while. The cross of our Lord is a victory of our Lord’s love for us. The continuing faithfulness of those who suffer is a victory of our Lord’s love for us. Heaven will be so wonderful! What we preach, Christ Jesus and Him crucified, is a sign of contradition to the ways of the world, the flesh and the devil. If no one ever takes issue with what we preach, with what we do, with who we are… could there possibly be something wrong with what we preach or do, or with who we are? Could it be that we not with our Lord, but against Him?
The cynics, however, you know, the power brokers of self-congratulation, who stomp on others to lift themselves up… those cynics say this:
“What our Lord said about His disciples fleeing from one town to the next does not, cannot apply to us today. We’re nice! Persecution doesn’t happen to nice people like us! We’ve moved on since the time of Jesus! We’re better than they were. WE. ARE. NICE!”
But our Lord says:
“Blessed are those perfectly continuing to be perfectly persecuted!”
I almost want to dance around in my little hermitage before the Lord in transcendent joy…. O.K. I just did! Now, let’s see what this blessedness is all about!
Remember, this is present tense, transcendent joy amidst persecution right now. There is a hint about the source of this blessedness, which is, of course, not the persecution itself. Persecutions are just annoying. It’s the bit about “for the sake of righteousness” that is important. This righteousness is about knowing and doing the will of our dear Heavenly Father, keeping the commandments and just being faithful, His little children, His little flock, in the midst of the circumstances of our day to day lives, circumstances which He either wills, if they are good, or permits for our benefit, if they are evil, knowing that He can and will draw good out of the evil if we cooperate with Him in His grace, with His life within us, depending utterly on Him. That’s righteousness. We don’t put ourselves forward as righteous. We look to Him as the only righteous one, who provides that righteousness to us, He being, yes, just so good and just so kind. We don’t deserve any of this friendship with Mary’s Son, our Lord Jesus, and receiving His gift of friendship is part of this joy. The joy is accentuated when we see ever so clearly that we would cave before any persecution at all, and watch how, in the midst of persecution, He holds us up, having us continue to be faithful. We find, in joy, that this is utterly, totally awesome. We watch the majesty of His priesthood in our lives. The majesty! He walks among us, amidst all the persecution, still bearing the wounds on His hands and feet and side, in His Heart…
“For theirs is the Kingdom of the Heavens.”
I mean, it’s not that we still don’t have free will after being perfectly continuing to be faithful amidst perfectly continuing persecutions. It’s not that we can’t still choose to sin. It’s just that the transcendent joy of blessedness becomes such an attraction, the life of Jesus within us, and so close does Jesus keep us to Himself, that He can’t but help say that the Kingdom of the Heavens belongs to us already, so happy is He with His knowledge that we will one day join Him soul and body in heaven, where the rejoicing will be at fever pitch, where the grace we now enjoy will shine out as His own glory. Yikes! Jesus is proud of us! Double yikes!