THE WORD: Responding to suffering

PHOTO CAPTION: “Crucifixion of St. Peter” by Caravaggio (1600) is an oil painting in the Chapel of the Assumption, Rome. (Public Domain)

Persecution is alive and well in our times. Faith communities across the globe are targeted with a range of pressures that range from subtle acts of bullying to institutionalized oppression. Some suffer torture and murder. In the springtime we examined the eight Beatitudes gleaned from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. The final of these blessed sayings promised that the persecuted are blessed, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus told his followers that when evil is done against them, they should rejoice, “for great is your reward in heaven.”

As we see persecution happening today, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture. The Bible tells us throughout that believers will suffer persecution. God’s word tells us in Proverbs that those who oppress insult God, but those who are generous to those in need honor God.

While we can have a broad view of persecution like the Apostle Paul — that suffering is temporary, but glory is eternal — we should remember to assist those in need, including those who are persecuted and harmed.

MATTHEW 25: 35-40

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’