The beatitude of the persecuted

We don’t face our persecutions alone. We go with Jesus, who carries his Cross before us and gives us strength and courage in our weakness. This is the truth of this Holy Week we are about to begin. — Credit: LAUREN CATER/CNA

This Sunday we begin Holy Week. Our Lenten journey has led us to the final hours of Our Lord’s life, in which he suffered torture and death on the Cross.

All through his ministry, Jesus had prepared his disciples for his Passion. He told them that he would have to suffer many things, that he would be rejected, insulted, humiliated and killed.

He also told us that if we believe in him and follow him, we must be ready to suffer these same things.

“A servant is not greater than his Master,” he said. “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.”

These are serious words in which Jesus invites us to imitate him completely, to the point of laying down our lives for his Gospel. And he goes even further. He tells us that persecution is a blessing, a pathway to joy and happiness for those who believe in him and seek his Kingdom.

The seventh and final Beatitude he gave us is: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”

In many ways, this is the most demanding of the Beatitudes — and the most realistic. Jesus was always totally honest with his apostles. And he is totally honest with us.

Jesus calls us to follow him. But he wants us to come with our eyes wide open. Again and again he tells us we must “count the cost” of discipleship. He wants us to know that if we follow him, it will mean suffering and loss.

And we see this all around the world today. In many places people can’t wear a crucifix or go to Mass or be seen reading a Bible in public. There are men, women and children being killed every day, for the “crime” of believing in Jesus.

Persecution comes in many forms. In our country, we do not face violence. Instead, we deal with the “soft” persecution of those who want to banish Christianity from having any influence on our secular society.

It is becoming clear that in the years ahead, believers and Church institutions will face increasing pressures to abandon our beliefs as “the price” for living in our society.

Pope Francis has explained: “We will … have persecutions, because the world does not tolerate Christ’s divinity, it does not tolerate the preaching of the Gospel, it does not tolerate the Beatitudes.”

Persecution is a consequence of witness. As followers of Jesus, we are given a mission. We are called to propose Jesus as the meaning of life and the meaning of creation and history. We are called to announce the new way of life that he has shown to us, the way of the Beatitudes.

Jesus is a scandal and an insult to those who would like to live as if God does not exist. And the Beatitudes are a scandal and an insult to the values and “certainties” that people in our secular society live by.

The Beatitudes challenge our obsession with wealth and the arrogance of our approach to creation and human life. They condemn our indifference to the sorrows of our neighbors, and all the injustice and lack of mercy we find in our homes and neighborhoods. The Beatitudes also call us to confront the uncleanness we find in our hearts, and all our failures to make peace and stop oppression.

We only have one heart and our love cannot be divided. We cannot serve two masters, as Jesus said.

So we should expect persecution. But we should never accept it.

The Beatitude of the persecuted tells us what Christian love requires in a world of poverty, suffering and death. This Beatitude — like all of them — calls us to action in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. Jesus wants us to fight religious intolerance and defend the basic human right to freedom of conscience.

God willing, most of us in this country will never suffer violence for our beliefs. But as disciples of Jesus, we will not avoid persecution for our faith in him. “Persecution” also includes the daily tensions and harassments we face, the challenges to our beliefs, the pressures to keep our faith to ourselves or to compromise our values.

We don’t face our persecutions alone. We go with Jesus, who carries his Cross before us and gives us strength and courage in our weakness. This is the truth of this Holy Week we are about to begin.

So let’s keep one another in prayer in this week. Let’s pray to always stay close to Jesus, following him with love, offering our sacrifices day after for day.

And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to watch over and intercede for all those in our world today who are persecuted for their faith in her Son.


Archbishop Gomez’s book, “Immigration and the Next America,” is available at the Cathedral Gift Shop ( Follow him at


Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”


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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner or Jim LoCoco at



    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to or; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 


    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.


    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or

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