To foster the hope of Heaven

The Christian who suffers persecution for following Jesus will draw from this experience a great capacity for understanding and a firm resolution not to hurt, not to offend, not to mistreat. The Lord also asks us to pray for those who persecute us, veritatem facientes in caritate. These words of St. Paul lead us to teach the doctrine of the Gospel without failing in the charity of Jesus Christ.

The last of the Beatitudes ends with a passionate promise of the Lord: Blessed are you when you are reviled, persecuted and slandered for my sake. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. The Lord is always a good payer.

Stephen was the first martyr of Christianity and he died for proclaiming the truth. We too have been called to spread the truth of Christ without fear, without dissimulation: do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul18. We cannot, therefore, give in to obstacles when it comes to proclaiming the saving doctrine of Christ, so that it can be said to us: "Do not be afraid of the truth, even if the truth brings you death ".

The day when Christians are persecuted, slandered or mistreated for being disciples of Jesus, is for them a day of victory and gain: Your reward will be great in heaven. In this life too, the Lord pays richly, but it will be in the next life that, if we are faithful, an immense reward awaits us. Here joy cannot be complete; but when we are close to the Lord, through prayer and the sacraments, we enjoy a foretaste of eternal happiness. As St. Paul wrote to the first Christians in Rome, I am certain that the sufferings of the present time are nothing in comparison with the glory that is to be manifested in us. The history of the Church shows that the sufferings of the present time are nothing in comparison with the glory that is to be manifested in us.

The history of the Church shows that at times tribulations cause a person to become cowed and cool his dealings with God; and at other times, on the contrary, they mature holy souls, who carry their daily cross and follow Christ as identified with him. We constantly see this double possibility: the same difficulty - an illness, misunderstandings, etc. - has a different effect according to the dispositions of the soul. If we want to be saints, it is clear that our dispositions must be to always follow the Lord closely, in spite of all obstacles.

In times of adversity it is of great help to foster the hope of Heaven. It will help us to be firm in the faith in the face of any kind of persecution or attempted disorientation. "If the Lord should lead you with a thirst on this journey of life, he will give you drink in abundance in the next, without fear that you will lack it ".

In times of external difficulties we must help our brothers and sisters in the faith to be firm in the face of these setbacks. We will be of great help to them by our example, by our word, by our joy, by our fidelity and our prayer; and we must be especially careful to live fraternal charity with them in those moments, because the brother, helped by his brother, is like a walled city; he is impregnable.

Our Lady, Our Mother, is particularly close to us in all difficult circumstances. Today we also entrust ourselves in a special way to the first martyr who gave his life for Christ, so that we may be strong in all our tribulations.

Hablar con Dios