Ave Maria Meditations
Our Lord warns us :”Woe to you when all men speak well of you! In the self-same manner their fathers used to treat the prophets.” Faith, when it is authentic, brings down into opposition with itself many selfish interests so as not to cause scandal. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to be a good Christian and not find oneself in conflict with a bourgeois and comfortable atmosphere that is frequently pagan. We have to ask continually for peace in the Church and for Christians of every country, but we should not be surprised or frightened if there is resistance from our surroundings to the teaching of Christ that we want to spread, a resistance in the shape of defamation, calumnies, etc. God will help us to receive abundant results from these situations.
The opposition from the good usually shows itself in antipathy towards some brothers in the Faith, in a more or less masked opposition to their work, and a criticism that is as destructive as it is ill-informed. In any case, the position of the Christian who wants above all to be faithful to Christ has to be one where he can pardon, make amends and act with rectitude of intention, all the time looking toward Christ. Don’t expect people’s applause for your work. What is more, sometimes you mustn’t even expect other people and institutions, who like you are working for Christ, to understand you. Seek only the glory of God, and while loving everyone, don’t worry if there are some who do not comprehend what it is you are doing.
When Saint Paul arrived in Rome, the Jews living there said, referring to the infant Church: We know that everywhere it is spoken against. At the end of twenty centuries we see, both in recent history as well as at the present moment, how in various countries thousands of good Christians, priests and lay persons have suffered martyrdom on account of their faith or have been marginalized or discriminated against for their beliefs or have been kept out of public office or teaching positions on account of their Catholicism, or encounter difficulties inprocuring for their children a Christian education . Alternately, it is the same oppressive atmosphere that looks upon religion as archaic, while modernity and progress are conceived as liberation from ‘restrictive’ religious ideals.
It is difficult to understand calumny or persecution -either open or veiled – in an era in which one hears so much about tolerance, understanding, fellowship and peace. But the attacks are more difficult to understand when they come from good men, when Christian persecutes, no matter how, another Christian, or a brother his brother. Our Lord prepared his own for the inevitable times when those who would defame, calumniate, or undermine their apostolic work would not be pagans or enemies of Christ, but brothers in the Faith who would think that with these actions they would be doing a service to God. This opposition from the good, an expression that the founder of Opus Dei coin to describe a phenomenon that he experienced so painfully in his own life, is a trial that God sometimes permits.
It is particularly painful for the Christian to whom it happens. The motives of the calumniators are usually due to human passions that can distort good judgment and complicate the clear intention of men who profess the same faith as those they attack, and who make up the same people of God. There are at times jealousies that supervene, rather than zeal for souls, rash allegations that appear to derive from envy, and make it possible to consider as evil the good that is being done by others. There can also be a kind of blinkered dogmatism at refuses to recognize for others the right to think in a different way in matters left by God to the free judgment of men.
Fr. Francis Fernandez