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May 1987

It is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong. (1 Pt. 3:17).

Peter, the Apostle, addressed these words to the Christian communities of Asia Minor, which were going through a difficult moment. The difficulties they faced was not the great persecution, which was to break out some years later, but the mockery, criticism, ill treatment, calumny and the marginalisation by their pagan fellow citizens.

For converts who had not yet acquired a solid faith, these prolonged expressions of hostility became difficult and dangerous, in the sense that they could lend them to grow discouraged and to abandon the new life.

The apostle wanted to forewarn the Christian communities about this temptation, by helping them to understand the meaning of the trial they were undergoing.

It is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong.

When we begin to live the Gospel, inevitably the world sooner or later turns against us. Jesus foretold this, and he made this type of trial the sign that we truly belong to him. Indeed he made it the cause of a special beatitude: "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account' (Mt. 5:11).

Jesus also explained the reason for these difficulties to us when he said to his apostles: 'If they persecuted me, they will persecute you' (Jn. 15:20).

The fact is that there is a radical and irremediable incompatibility between Jesus and the world. The world is not capable of welcoming Jesus, so it also rejects those who want to follow him (cf. Jn. 15:19).

It is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong.

It is better to suffer for doing right rather than for doing wrong also because faith proves itself and becomes strong precisely in the difficulties and the persecution. It is here that the disciple shows how much he has understood and loved his master. Jesus wants to see if we are capable of following him even when the world opposes us.

Furthermore, by permitting persecution, Jesus wants to tell us that his Gospel advances not so much because it is easily accepted or because of human support, but rather, through our witness and our knowing how to suffer something for his sake.

It is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong.

This Word of Life reminds us, that there is a trial which strikes us precisely because we are Christians: the world does not understand.

We must not deceive ourselves: the fact that we live in a democratic age and have a more developed mentality will not spare us from this kind of trial.

We could be accused, for example, of being old-fashioned, because we still believe in the truths of faith; because we strive to live the commandments of Jesus, because we follow the directives of the Church. And this initially will cause us to suffer.

It is precisely during these moments, however, that we will show Jesus our love.

Take courage then! It is not too easy to follow Jesus. But it is worthwhile suffering a little for him because the joy that we receive from following him is priceless: there is no comparison with any human happiness.

Chiara Lubich

 

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