the joy of persecution
"The apostles for their part left the Sanhedrin full of joy that they had been judged worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of the Name." —Acts 5:41
How do you know whether you're really getting into the Easter Spirit? Are you being persecuted because of your witness for the risen Christ? Are you joyful that you have been judged worthy of this persecution? Persecution and joy are the tell-tale signs of a real Easter — not either persecution or joy, but both persecution and joy.
This doesn't mean that we have to feel good about persecution but that we rejoice in the Lord always no matter what (Phil 4:4). Some Christians maintain they are witnessing for Jesus but not persecuted, because those around them are too nice to do such a thing. Possibly the Lord has spared them persecution for a time, but more likely they're not proclaiming the radical gospel of the risen Christ.
When people don't believe in the risen Christ, persecution is a normal response to the earth-shaking, mind- boggling, life-transforming message of the resurrection. There's nothing that can shake people up more than the resurrection. Since Jesus is risen and death is defeated, they must change their lives dramatically and radically. This challenge will result in either repentance or persecution. Both of these reactions result in joy for Christians (see Lk 15:7).
Prayer: Father, may I rejoice in persecution more than in pleasure.
Promise: "To the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, be praise and honor, glory and might, forever and ever!" —Rv 5:13
Praise: Praise the risen Jesus, Whose love knows no bounds! Alleluia!
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 9, 2009
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