PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

 

"How to treat persecutors"

In lieu of Reflection #27, I am posting here nice thoughts about evangelization and behavior during times of persecution.- R.O.

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Reflection:

How strong is your Christian testimony? Does your life testify to the truth of God – not just your words, but the way you live your life? Does your life reflect the light of Christ so much that it brightens the darkness in others?

Today's Gospel reading explains that Jesus was persecuted because he spoke the truth uncompromisingly, and because his whole life was a testimony to that truth. A barometer of how well our lives reflect his is whether or not we're being persecuted. When we are truly shining as light in the darkness, those who prefer the darkness react against us. Their eyes need time to adjust.

Think of how you react when you're sleeping in a dark room and someone turns on the lights. Do you smile and say, "Thank you"? Not most of us. Startled, we react with hatred for the light, even if we know it's time to wake up.

When your life testifies to the truth of God, the light of Christ in you startles people out of their sleep. They will bury themselves deeper under the covers of their darkness, because it feels like a security blanket. But your continual light will seep through even the thickest blanket fibers. Then, if they really want to remain in darkness, they will try to find a way to shut off your light. Stand strong but take your bright light elsewhere. Give them time to adjust their vision. Keep praying for them. Keep loving them. Eventually, the darkness will cause them to stumble and their sufferings will make them want to change.

In the meanwhile, what should we do with the sufferings we endure from persecutions? Do we want to join our persecutors in the darkness by fighting back unlovingly. Do we protect ourselves through compromise, forsaking the truth? Do we try to cope by complaining?

We will find peace and healing only by taking our complaints to God (and him alone) and by focusing on how the persecutions are uniting us to Christ.

Like Jesus, we can offer our sufferings as a sacrifice for those who live in darkness. Jesus did not overcome his persecutors by defending himself. Rather, he trusted that his sufferings would eventually conquer the darkness. We can do this, too. The love we have for our persecutors and the union we have with Jesus will make a difference. Our patient endurance will help the eyes of those in darkness to adjust to the light so that their hearts will finally accept the truth.

If you're not being persecuted for your faith, your light's not shining very brightly. But if your light is that bright, appreciate how good this is and rejoice in it! The truth is worth being persecuted for. It's a sign that your life is filled with Christ.

© 2014 by Terry A. Modica 
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