33rd Sunday Year C 2019
Universal love and hate!
(By Fr. Peter Madros)
The Lord has warned: “You will be exposed to the hatred of everyone because of my name” (Mt 10, 22).
Nowadays, especially in Iraq, the prophecies of Jesus come true to the letter: “The men (more or less human!), will deliver you to the Sanhedrin (or the authorities ‘religious’ corresponding to it). They flog you in their synagogues (and mosques and other temples).You will be brought before governors … for my sake, to bear witness (the same word means “martyr”) to them and to the Gentiles (or neo-pagans) … But he who endures to the end, he shall be saved “(vv. 17 b – 23).
Jesus commends those who suffer because of him (in Mt 5, 11). St. Paul, a former Pharisee, applied the text of the Psalmist to Jesus: “For your sake, Lord, we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Ps 44 (43), 23, Rom 8, 35 -36). Yes, literally, Christians are fundamentally persecuted because of the Name of Jesus, because they profess His divinity, because of the Holy Trinity than many think or imagine as a blasphemous triad. Followers of the Crucified One who boast of His cross (1 Cor 2.2. Gal 6, 14), they find the same resistance and e hostility from the people of the Old Covenant, which consider the cross as a stumbling block, neo-pagans who see an incurable madness, and the Muslim world who believe it is an abominable idol invented and worshiped by the “Nazarenes.”
With or without trial, Christians are executed, slaughtered like beasts of burden. Now as Jesus was crucified, he abolished all the sacrifices of animals. The new humanity should no longer pay bloodshed, it is far from following the Crucified!
Think without paranoia or megalomania of our status as persecuted. Why are we not better than others? Whether we like it or not, we represent an awkward Christ who peacefully declared war against the evil inclinations of nature, rejecting what men usually seek and desire, namely: power, pleasure, ambition, and aggression. We represent one who has embraced what men normally reject: self-denial, dedication, humility, gentleness, forgiveness and nonviolence. Christ in His perfection and our poor people despite their imperfections are constantly reproached, a challenge that has shaken the conscience most asleep.
Jesus is the Truth we represent. The forces of error and falsehood we want to remove, as they had tried to eliminate the Nazarene that Friday at Calvary. Yet he did not hesitate to “bear witness” and to suffer martyrdom before Pontius Pilate. (1 Tim 6, 13).
We bear our cross. Suffer, as St. Peter exhorts us, “because we are Christians” (1 P 4, 16), not because of our sins.