Lenten Devotional – MON, Mar 22: Persecuted

Commentators connect this week’s blessings with the earlier Beatitude passage about peacemakers. All the blessings are integrated. One scholar writes, ‘Here again there is a profound significance in the order. The work of the peacemakers is not a light and easy work.’  When believing in, and working for, a righteous or just cause, a person may suffer ridicule or harm.

What does persecution mean? Why would we ever put ourselves in a position to experience it?

Perhaps the threat or damage is verbal or physical, psychological or emotional, personal or social. It can come in the form of insults and lies, gossip and judgment. It may mean torture or bullying.

The reason for which one experiences the persecution is integral to the blessing. The reason — the cause that speaks to our values — is the only reason we’d risk anything that could be called persecution.

The people who are persecuted have found something for which they’re willing to take risks. They are folk choose uncommon, even revolutionary paths, in the sense of going against public opinion. They’re committed.

They’re the family, friends, neighbors and strangers we’ve met in earlier Beatitudes. The pure-hearted, who are single-minded and whole-hearted. The meek, who are kind but strong when they choose to hold their ground.

This state of being includes those who are passionate about their faith, and what it calls them to do for other people we also see in the Beatitudes: the hungry, the poor, the sorrowing, the powerless, the marginalized, the vulnerable, the hurt, the broken. Do you recognize yourself in this description, as one who will stand up for others, because of your faith-based values? — Rev Gail

MEDITATIONS:

Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road. Voltaire

They can take our homes, our possessions. Our families. Our lives. They can drive us out, like they’ve driven us out before. They can humiliate us and dehumanize us. But they cannot take our thoughts. They cannot take our talents. They cannot take our knowledge, or our memories, or our minds. Amy Harmon

Challenge or Question: What causes require that you put yourself at risk, either exposed to public opinion or in some other form? Have you ever felt persecuted? Or perhaps, upon reflection, have you ever participated in the persecution of another person?

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