July 20, 2020
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Blessed Are You When They Revile, Persecute, And Speak Every Evil Against You

Blessed Are You When They Revile, Persecute, And Speak Every Evil Against You

Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute and speak every evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets before you. (Mt 5: 11-12)

As The New Interpreter’s Bible notes: “This transitional section shifts from the third to second person. The joy to which the disciples are called is not in spite of persecution, but because of it. Rejoicing because of persecution is not the expression of a martyr complex, but the joyful acceptance of the badge of belonging to the eschatological community of faith, the people of God who are out of step with the value system of this age. Such people are like the prophets of Israel, who were also persecuted.” (Volume VIII, pp. 180)

A refrain common throughout Isaiah is ‘rejoice and be glad,’ which “expresses the joy and gladness of living in covenant relationship under God’s rule (Isaiah 35:10; 51:3, 11). The word, reward, found often in Matthew, picks up the theme of ‘reward and recompense’ in Isaiah, which largely translates to salvation, redemption, and the establishment of an everlasting covenant (Isaiah 61:8; 40:10; 49:44).” (The International Bible Commentary: A Catholic Commentary for the 21st Century, pp. 1272)

In his book, Spirituality of the Beatitudes: Matthew’s Challenge for First World Christians, Fr. Michael Crosby, O.F.M. Cap. has reflected that “society’s rejection of Jesus is every generation’s rejection of those disciples who, at any point of history, lead the prophetic lifestyles of the beatitudes. Rejection can be expected by anyone preaching Jesus’ word to a world that refuses to change its ideology and be converted.” (pp. 203)

Despite the powerful shadows of today’s courageous Christians, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled:

“You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.” (Mt 13: 14-15)

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Written by
Deacon Kurt Godfryd