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Imitate Jesus In Hardships

Peace be with you!

The readings this weekend remind us that every single person will experience adversity in life.  Those who devote themselves to serving God are not exempt from the challenges and struggles that come in life either.  In fact, they can expect to meet great opposition!  So what’s the use?  Why should someone choose to follow Christ and have a more difficult path than to let go and serve themselves?  Simple.  Followers of Jesus have a source of hope in their faith that God is aware of their hardship and their virtue will be met with an eternal reward!  AND, it is precisely in the experience of struggle that disciples find an intimate companionship with Jesus when they give their best effort in imitation of him!

Difficulties and challenges we all accept as a matter of course in life but what do we do when we are treated with insolent disrespect and/or hostility from bullies or even mortal enemies?

Jeremiah gives us a good insight of how we are to behave and where we can go psychologically, emotionally and spiritually when we have that experience.  After identifying the actions of his malefactors, Jeremiah uses his faith and turns to God in hope!  He says: “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.”

The Psalmist in Psalm 69 (probably David) identifies himself as a humble servant who loves God above all things and does not stoop to retribution, cursing or hatred but entrusts everything to God believing that God will come to his aid.  In Mathew’s Gospel Jesus teaches us divine wisdom, which is radically different than natural inclinations or the “world view.”  Jesus says, don’t be afraid.  “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”  Jesus reminds us that the truth will come to light in the end and justice will be done; it isn’t about paybacks.

The message we are given can guide us to peace and reconciliation in our nation—if we all listen to it.  We can put these principles to use in our personal lives through what we say and do. God bless and protect you always! +++ Fr. Peter