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Tuesday - Sixteenth Week after Pentecost

Human respect - 2

From book "Spiritual Readings for all days of the year from texts of Saint Alphonsus of Liguori"... Yes, it is impossible to serve God and escape per...

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Spiritual Readings

Saint Alphonsus

Yes, it is impossible to serve God and escape persecution of some kind. And I say again there is no remedy. All, as St. Paul says, who wish to live united with Jesus Christ must be persecuted by the world. And all that will live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. iii. 12). All the Saints have been persecuted. You say: I do not injure anyone; why, then, am I not left in peace? Well, what evil have the Saints and the Martyrs done? They were full of charity; they loved all, and laboured to do good to all; and how were they treated by the world? They were flayed alive; tortured with red-hot plates of iron; and put to death in the most cruel manner. And whom did Jesus Christ — the Saint of Saints — injure? He consoled all: He healed all. Virtue went out from him, and healed all (Luke vi. 19). And how did the world treat Him? It persecuted Him, so as to make Him die through pain on an infamous gibbet.

This happens because the maxims of the world are diametrically opposed to the maxims of Jesus Christ. What the world esteems, Jesus Christ regards as folly. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Cor. iii. 19). And what is folly in the eyes of the world — that is, crosses, sickness, contempt, and ignominy — Jesus Christ holds in great estimation. For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness (1 Cor. i. 18). How can a man think himself to be a Christian, asks St. Cyprian, when he is afraid to be a Christian? If we are Christians, let us show that we are Christians in name and in truth; for, if we are ashamed of Jesus Christ, He will be ashamed of us, and cannot give us a place on His right hand on the Last Day. For he that shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of man shall be ashamed when he shall come in his majesty (Luke ix. 26). On the Day of Judgment God will say: You have been ashamed of Me on earth: I am now ashamed to see you with Me in Paradise. Depart, accursed souls; go into hell to meet your companions who have been ashamed of Me. But mark the words: he that shall be ashamed of me and of my words. St. Augustine says that some are ashamed to deny Jesus Christ, but do not blush to deny the maxims of Jesus Christ. But you may tell me that if you say you cannot do such an act, because it is contrary to the Gospel, your friends will turn you into ridicule and will call you a hypocrite. Then, says St. John Chrysostom, you will not suffer to be treated with derision by a companion, and you are not unwilling to be hated by God!

The Apostle, who gloried in being a follower of Christ, said: The world is crucified to me, and I to the world (Gal. vi. 14). As I am a person crucified to the world — an object of its scoffs and ill-treatment — so the world is to me an object of contempt and abomination. It is necessary to be convinced that if we do not trample on the world, the world will trample on our souls. But what is the world and all its goods? All that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 Jo. ii. 16). To what are all the goods of this earth reduced? To riches, which are but dung; to honours, which are only smoke; and to carnal pleasures. But what shall all these profit us if we lose our souls? What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? (Matt. xvi. 26).

He that loves God and wishes to save his soul must despise the world and all human respect; and to do this every one must offer violence to himself. St. Mary Magdalen had to do great violence to herself in order to overcome human respect and the comments and scoffs of the world, when, in the presence of so many, she cast herself at the feet of Jesus Christ to wash them with her tears. But she thus became a Saint, and merited from Jesus Christ pardon of her sins, and praise for her great love. Many sins are forgiven her because she hath loved much (Luke vii. 47). One day, as St. Francis Borgia carried to certain prisoners a vessel of broth under his cloak, he met his son mounted on a fine horse, and accompanied by noblemen. The Saint felt ashamed to show what he carried under his cloak. But in order to conquer human respect he took the vessel of broth and carried it on his head, and thus showed his contempt for the world. Jesus Christ, our Head and Master, when nailed to the Cross, was mocked by the soldiers: If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. He was mocked by the Jewish priests, saying: He saved others; himself he cannot save (Matt. xxvii. 40-42). But He remained on the Cross, and cheerfully died upon it, and thus conquered the world.

"I give thanks to God," says St. Jerome, "that I am worthy to be hated by the world." The Saint returns thanks to God for having made him worthy of the hatred of the world. Jesus Christ pronounced His disciples blessed when they should be hated by men: Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you (Luke vi. 22). Christians, let us rejoice; for if worldlings curse and upbraid us God praises and blesses us. They will curse, and thou wilt bless (Ps. cviii. 28). Is it not enough for us to be praised by God, to be praised by the Queen of Heaven, by all the Angels, by all the Saints, and by all just men? Let worldlings say what they wish; but let us continue to please God Who will give us in the next life a reward proportioned to the violence we shall have done to ourselves in despising the contradictions of men. Each should try to consider that there is no one in the world but himself and God. When the wicked treat us with contempt, let us recommend to God these blind and miserable men who run the road to perdition; and let us thank the Lord for giving to us the light which He refuses to them. Let us continue on our own way. To obtain all it is necessary to conquer all.

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Human respect - 1

Monday - Sixteenth Week after Pentecost