OUR HARDSHIPS AND SUFFERINGS WILL BE TRANSFORMED BY GOD INTO TRUE RICHES IN ETERNITY
(Monday, June 17, 2019)
At the end of his eloquent instruction today, St. Paul listed a series of seven paradoxes saying “We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” Though Christians will be subjected to ridicule, harassment, persecution, and even martyrdom, St. Paul reminds Christians that in the end, our hardships and sufferings will be transformed by God into true riches in eternity.
St. Paul’s teaching told could be traced back to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, which we read last Monday, “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” The way Christians act, the way we think, the way we use our possessions, the way we respond to our so-called enemies, is different from the rest of the world—our values are different. In the Gospel today, Jesus continues to teach his disciples to act according to a very different set of standards than the way of the world.
The gospel of today is also one of the difficult passages in the teachings of Christ. Christ says “When someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” The world would say, when someone slaps you on the right cheek, slap them back, get them back, teach them a lesson so they never think to slap you again. Rather than responding with vengeance, Christians respond to violence as Christ did. Remember, during his Passion, as he was beaten and mocked by Roman Soldiers, he offered his sufferings to the Father for our salvation. Again, here’s the paradox. To turn the other cheek sounds like weakness, it sounds like foolishness.
Our abuser might continue to slap us; they might continue to take advantage of us. But the way of forgiveness, the way of peace, transform weakness into a strength that glorifies God and witnesses to the Prince of Peace. Instead of returning “evil for evil”, we can return “good for evil”, and not only stop the cycle of violence but allow God to reverse it and transform it. Again, an injury suffered with forgiveness will be rewarded in eternity.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to keep doing good until the end and may your name be glorified through my work. Amen.