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Blessed are the Persecuted

Praised be Jesus Christ! He is risen! Jesus has conquered sin and death so that we may have abundant life with Him in heaven for all eternity. Thanks be to God for this most wonderful gift!

This Lent we have taken a journey through the Cardinal Virtues, the Seven Deadly Sins, and the Seven Beatitudes. Today we will look at the last Deadly Sin of gluttony.

Gluttony consumes an excessive amount of worldly goods, be it food or alcohol. Contrast this with being persecuted which is being deprived of even basic necessities to sustain life. While gluttony is certainly not the greatest of the deadly sins, when combined with avarice and lust, it perpetuates the illusion that our emptiness can be filled with things of the world.[1]

“We are all addicts to something,” says Peter Kreeft, “stuck like flies to flypaper, in love with something other than God.”[2] “It is a recipe for disappointment,”[3] he says. According to St. Thomas Aquinas sins are mortal when they turn us away from the end for which we were created, eternity with God in heaven.

So, what is the remedy to the sin of gluttony? Peter Kreeft has this to say…

The motivation for gluttony is the unconscious self-image of emptiness: I must fill myself because I am empty, ghostlike, worthless. Only a knowledge of God’s love for me can fill that emptiness, make me a solid self, give me ultimate worth. And that knowledge comes through Jesus Christ. Therefore Jesus is the ultimate answer to gluttony, as to every other one of our problems.[4]

In simple terms, we must turn away from our problem and turn toward the source of all grace and joy, Jesus Christ. “He is our life, sin is our death,”[5] says Kreeft. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans says, “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20).

The specific sin of gluttony and the specific grace of blessedness under persecution confront each other. Gluttony is self-indulgence, the demand to have the world’s real food for the stomach and the world’s false food for the soul. The beatitude of standing fast under persecution is the strength of self-sacrifice. The contrast is between getting and giving, between gluttonous finding that is really a losing and martyr’s losing that is really a finding.[6]

Jesus tells us: “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” He adds, “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace” (Jn 16:33). When we attach our sufferings to the suffering of Christ on the Cross, we will be raised to new life with Him in the resurrection. St. Paul in his second letter to the Church of Corinth emphasizes the transformative power of Jesus Christ.

So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

We should not be surprised by our persecutions. The culture in which we live does not want to hear the bad news of sin. Our culture has lost the ability to interiorly reflect on how our behavior affects others or ourselves. “If you feel comfortable in sin,” says Kreeft, “if you have a deep personal stake in sinful habits, then you’re naturally going to hate the offer of salvation and persecute anyone who seems to threaten your sins.”[7] Does this sound familiar? This is the culture we find ourselves in.

We are blessed in our persecutions because at the very worst, the world can kill us for being followers of Jesus Christ. The result is that we receive our heavenly reward. St. Paul echoed this sentiment as he was about to be martyred for the faith:

“O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 5:55-57

“In this age of relativism,” says Kreeft, “orthodoxy is the only possible rebellion left.”[8] Be a rebel for Christ. Teach your children to stand up for the faith. Teach them virtues. The world is dying through its self-absorption. Our culture needs witnesses to the faith and the joy of living the Beatitudes. This is particularly needed during this crazy time we are living in, the largest pandemic of the last century. People are without hope; they are despairing. They need to hear the Good News of the Gospel. They need to see your peace and joy in the midst of the storm raging around them. You and your family have a mission, to make Christ known to this broken world. People will have hope to the extent that they know Jesus. Be a channel of God’s love and mercy to this hurting world.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

May you and your family receive the crown of everlasting life. Have a blessed and joyful Easter season!

This is the tenth and last installment in our Lenten series on virtue. If you enjoyed this series, please consider making a donation to our ministry here. Calling Couples to Christ is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. Thank you in advance for your generosity in bringing husbands, wives, and their families to a life-changing encounter with the Word of God, Jesus Christ.

The previous reflections in this series can be found at the links below:

Living Virtue Well in Our Marriages and Families

The Cardinal Virtues

The Beatitudes Confront the Seven Deadly Sins

Confronting Pride

Confronting Avarice

Confronting Envy

Confronting Anger

Confronting Sloth

Confronting Lust

[1] Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), 179.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 180.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 181.

[7] Ibid., 184.

[8] Ibid., 189.