Eighth bliss

Monastery Do not look at what you leave and run towards the good.

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

The order of precepts takes us to the eighth step on the top of the climb. Once "stained" by sin, through the path of purification, and returned to the state of natural purity, we will obtain the reward of labors, the reward of so much sweat with the reintegration into Heaven: "Blessed are the persecuted for my sake, because of them it is the kingdom of heaven".

It is a source of bliss to be persecuted because of the Lord, because being chased by evil becomes a reason to settle in goodness. The good is the same Lord to whom he runs who is pursued by the persecutor. Human life is on the border between good and evil, poised between the joy of those who hope and the abyss of those in despair. Because the persecution of martyrs is done by the wicked, the form in which it manifests itself, at first sight, is painful for the senses, but its end transcends all suffering.

Often what looks painful, becomes a source of happiness for many, as evidenced by the story of Joseph, son of Jacob. He was threatened by his brothers and taken from their company; thanks to his sale, he was appointed king by those who had plotted against him; and he would not have come to such dignity, without their envy, through which the way to the kingdom was opened to him. If someone had said to Joseph, "because you are threatened, you will be blessed", would not have appeared credible in his eyes, because at that time he was able to see only the suffering of the present. In the same way, even the persecution done against the faithful, being very painful for the senses, can only be accepted with the hope of the Kingdom.

Stephen, stoned, rejoiced and gladly welcomed the throwing of the stones on his body, and returned killing the killer with blessings, praying that no fault should be imputed to them, because he had understood the Lord's promise and saw that his hope of conquering it was becoming concrete through the acceptance of what he was undergoing; having indeed heard that the persecuted because of the Lord would enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he saw - while he was persecuted - what awaited him: the open Heaven, the glory of God.

It is not easy to prefer, to the visible pleasures of this life, the invisible good of a reality not yet experienced; it is not easy to face this choice without the help of the Lord. As the Apostle says, "And those he foretold, there he called; and those he called, justified; and those who justified, also glorified "(Rom 8:30). The soul, through the sensations of the body, is attracted by the pleasures of life, with the eyes it delights in the beauty of matter, with hearing it is inclined to the flattering sounds of its calls and, according to what is by nature of each sense , is predisposed to the solicitations of smell, taste and touch; therefore the soul, attached to the pleasant things of life through the power of the senses, hardly separates itself from those pleasures that surround it and continually undermine it. In this situation, the soul becomes easy prey to evil.

However, the Scriptures teach us this and the Sermon on the Mount underlines it even more clearly: for every evil, for every action or state of mind contrary to good, the Father has prepared for us a solution, an alternative choice that allows us to free ourselves from such mechanisms. "The word of God, in fact, is alive and efficacious and sharper than any double-edged sword: it penetrates until it divides the soul and the spirit, the joints and the marrow, and distinguishes the feelings and thoughts of the heart" (Heb 4:12) . The Word penetrates within those who have truly accepted the faith, cut off the parts that have grown badly and the bonds of habit, giving strength to overcome the pleasures of the world.

Then you will be amazed to see that you no longer look at how much you leave, but at what you aspire; no longer turn your eyes to what is pleasant, but run with the look towards the good; do not grieve for the loss of the earthly treasures, but exult in the conquest of the heavenly ones. It is at this precise moment that, without any hesitation, you will begin to receive promptly every form of torture as a means and a help for the promised joy; fire as a purifying means of matter; the sword as a means that separates the union formed between the mind and that which is material or carnal. Anything that can be painful and painful becomes pleasant to you, as it is recognized as the only antidote able to counteract the evil and harmful poison of pleasure.

Those who are persecuted by the enemy and flee to God, voluntarily accept all the painful trials that arise, because they are the water that extinguishes the indomitable fire of pleasure. Since sin has been introduced by pleasure, for this it will be banished from its opposite; and those who persecute other men because of their confession of faith in the Lord, do nothing but offer, through the penalties inflicted, a medicine to the souls of the latter.

Thus Paul accepts the cross, James the sword, Stephen the stones, Peter the crucifixion upside down; just as all the saints, who succeeded them, accepted with joy the various forms of torture as a means of purification from sin (beasts, chasms, burnings, scarnification, heads pierced by nails, caved eyes, cut fingers, dismembered or divided bodies in, and any other form of torture), so as not to leave any trace of the pleasures imprinted on their hearts, aware that this painful and bitter trial is the only one able to erase all the scars of pleasure in the soul.

Affliction is a flower of the hoped-for fruits. We therefore also take the flower, to have the fruit. Let us chase for running! Running we run in vain, but it is our race addressed to the prize of our superior vocation; let us run for Christ, which is the prize of the race of faith. He is the crown of laurels for those who win.

Therefore, if we are persecuted, let us not be afflicted, but rather rejoice, because through the removal of the honors of the world, we will be pushed to the heavenly good, according to the promise of He who has blessed those who will be persecuted for His cause, since the Kingdom of Skies is for them.

Those persecuted because of justice are those who experience directly what Jesus said: "I did not come to bring peace, but division" (Mt 10.34). Because of this position in his time on earth, he was hated to such an extent that he was killed: "you denied the Saint and the Just One, and asked that a murderer be pardoned. You have killed the author of life "(Acts 3: 14-15). So it will be for his disciples, because speaking of him, they will expose themselves to persecution: "Blessed are the persecuted because of justice".

But what is this justice? It is Jesus, the only certainty of God; this is justice! To defend this means to expose oneself to persecution, but it also means having the comfort and help of Jesus who comforts his imitators, encourages them with comforting words whispered in their hearts: "rejoice and be glad, because you have reached the bliss, and you can be sure of being blessed because you will enjoy my presence, because you will feel my presence, because you will live of my presence, even in the midst of all this reality that is hostile to you ". In fact, Jesus already said to his first disciples: "I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves; be as prudent as snakes and simple as doves.

Beware of men, for they will deliver you to their tribunals and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness to them and to the pagans [...]. And you will be hated by everyone because of my name; but whoever perseveres until the end will be saved "(Mt 10: 16-22). Here then the persecuted, the insulted, those who will receive all sorts of evil because they will defend His justice, the truth, the certainty that in the son of man there is the fullness of God, will be then comforted by His saving intervention, from the His final hug, and they will be blessed for eternity.

The path to reach this blessedness is therefore that which Jesus taught us, accompanying us on this path to the summit of the Mountain: poverty of spirit, affliction, meekness, thirst for justice, mercy, purity of heart and being peacemakers. This is the path on which we must train to become capable of reaching the fullness of bliss because, despite the adversities and misunderstandings, despite the things that will continue to oppose our path, we are certain of what awaits us: let us rejoice and support each other. with each other, because we will always be blessed in the Kingdom of Heaven.