Passion Is not Quelled with Reason but with Virtue.
The Twenty-Third Wednesday of Ordinary Time.
Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Colossians 3: 1-11.
• Psalm 145: 2-3, 10-13.
• Luke 6: 20-26.
The Thirteenth Wednesday after Pentecost; and, the Commemoration of Saints Protus and Hyaninth, Martyrs.*
Lessons from the dominica,** according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Galatians 3: 16-22.
• Psalm 73: 20, 19, 22.
• Luke 17: 11-19.
If a Mass for the commemoration is taken, lessons from the common "Salus autem…" of Many Martyrs:
• Hebrews 10: 32-38.
• Psalm 12: 1-8.
• Luke 12: 1-8.
5:45 PM 9/18/2019 — It never occurred to me to stop and count how many times our Blessed Lord warns His disciples how their decision to follow Him will result in persecution; and, of course, that warning is made to us as well, as everything said by our Lord is also directed, though time and eternity, to us.
Today’s Gospel lesson is, of course, from the most memorable part of the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, and I’m not going to offer any kind of comprehensive meditation on them, inasmuch as there are plenty of places where you can find something a lot better than I could offer. But I think it’s to our spiritual benefit to focus our attention on the last of them: “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man” (Luke 6: 22 RM3).
I don’t think that statement by our Lord could be more timely for us. Watch the news on any given night and there’s a good chance that someone famous, someone in politics, someone in journalism, someone in show business, will rail against the evils of Christianity, almost using the world “Christian” as a swear word. Say something insulting about a Muslim and you’ll lose your job; offer a prayer in a public venue and someone will sue you. I remember reading a story from not too long ago in which a student in a public elementary school was suspended because he sat down with his lunch in the cafeteria, blessed himself, and said grace … and not even out loud, but silently to himself, disturbing no one.
Now, those of us who are familiar with the Life of Christ are not surprised by this, since, as I said, the warnings by our Lord about how this will happen to anyone who follows Him are numerous. The challenge for us who must swim through this river of constant antagonism is to do so while maintaining our interior peace. Allowing ourselves to get angry about it solves nothing, and only feeds fuel to the enemies of God. It behooves us to keep in mind the good example of Peter and John who, after having been flogged publicly for having preached the Good News in spite of being warned not to, “…left the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer indignity for the sake of Jesus’ name” (Acts 5: 41 Knox). And the Acts of the Apostles goes on to tell us that, following this, they preached our Lord with even more fervor and joy than before.
When Saint Paul arrived in Rome, the Jews living there said, referring to the infant Church: “We know that everywhere it is spoken against” (Acts 28: 22 RSV). At the end of twenty centuries we see how nothing much as changed, how in various countries thousands of good Christians have suffered martyrdom on account of their faith; and, even in our own country, which at one time would have been called a Christian country, it is no longer unheard of for people to be marginalized, discriminated against, kept out of public office or denied a teaching position, not for anything they may have done or said, but simply because they are known as people of faith. It’s the irony of our age: that in an era in which one hears so much about tolerance, understanding and compassion that hatred for the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains the last acceptable bigotry everyone is allowed to practice.
We are tempted to respond in kind. We’re tempted to offer specious arguments when we should know full well that no argument, however well reasoned, will ever change the mind of someone motivated by hatred. One does not quell passion with reason, but with virtue. To do otherwise is to completely ignore what our Blessed Lord said: “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven” (Luke 6: 22-23 RM3). It’s not a command to be taken lightly, nor is it impossible with our eyes fixed on heaven and assisted by God’s grace.
Saint Bernard, whose feast we observed not too many days ago, expressed it so beautifully:
It is better for me, Lord, to suffer tribulation, as long as you are with me, then to reign without you, rejoice without you, glory in myself without you. It is better for me, Lord, to embrace you in tribulation, to have you with me in the furnace of fire, than to be without you, even in heaven itself. What would heaven mean to me without you, and with you what would the earth matter? (Sermon 17).
* These two brothers were scourged and beheaded in Rome during the persecution of Valerian and Gallian in the year 262.
** In the extraordinary form, on ferias outside privileged seasons, the lessons from the previous Sunday are repeated.