Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:10)
According to the International Bible Commentary: A Catholic Commentary for the 21st Century, pp. 1272:
“Those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness are those faithful to the covenant but taken advantage of by the wicked. The ‘persecuted’ are the same as the ‘poor in spirit’ of the first beatitude. Both receive the same pronouncement- ‘theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ This inclusio brings all the blessings together as one. The only difference is that the last four beatitudes illustrate more the active stance of the faithful, while the first four show their dependent relationship on God.”
Likewise, Fr. Daniel Harrington, S.J. notes the way in which this beatitude provides evidence of what happens to those who conform their lives to Christ: “Matthean community members might take this beatitude as a description of the discipline and social ostracism that they endured for their unusual way of living Judaism.” (Sacra Pagina, The Gospel of Matthew, pp. 80) Continuing, Fr. Michael Crosby, O.F.M. Cap. reflects that “the early Church viewed itself as a persecuted subgroup. As a minority group, they were beginning to differentiate between their synagogal sacrifice (which had been replaced by the law) and our synagogal sacrifice (which has appeared in the the living presence of the risen Jesus in community). Whatever its relationship with the Jewish synagogue, the experience of rejection is central to the community’s experience at the time of Matthew’s final redaction.” (Spirituality of the Beatitudes: Matthew’s Challenge for First World Christians, pp. 200)
In our own day, it is clear that living out this beatitude is not for the faint of heart. Indeed, as our culture has been hijacked by secular progressives, a chilling hostility has befallen those who ascribe to Gospel values…
- For opposing abortion and proclaiming that the dignity of all human life must be respected—from conception to natural death.
- For upholding that marriage is formed by the union of one man and one woman.
- For Catholic bishops who rightly exercise their teaching office handed down through the Apostles.
But with “truth” and “wisdom” nestled so firmly in their hearts and minds, today’s “progressives” continue in their efforts to strip away every memory of God from our daily lives. As for Christians who place stones before their feet? They are branded as “obstructionists” and “loyal to a God who does not exist.”
But He does!
And so, like the martyrs of old, we, His faithful followers, must wear this badge with honor.