Pray for Our Persecutors
On the tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we learn to pray for our persecutors, hoping God will give them a second chance:
Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it… -Galatians 1:11-13
Each of this weekend’s Mass verses deals with second chances. From 1 Kings 17, Ezekiel brings new life to the widow’s son through the power of God. From Luke 7, Jesus brings a man back to life. And in Galatians 1, St. Paul tells us of the second chance given to him by God.
St. Paul’s story from Galatians is important for us to keep in mind in today’s society. He persecuted the Church ruthlessly. His goal, in his own words, was to destroy it. Despite his efforts, Christ gave him a second chance anyway.
This is why we need to pray for our persecutors today. St. Paul was one of Christianity’s greatest enemies, but then he became one of the most important figures the Church has ever known. His words formed much of the New Testament, and the Bible would not look the same without his many letters.
We do not know what God’s plan for someone may be. He has the power to change the hardest of hearts. Actually, I spent most of my life speaking against Catholics, but here I am now – doing everything I can to share the beauty of the Catholic Church.
The Church has no shortage of enemies in the modern world. Many of our views are not exactly popular with mainstream society. Some of those who disagree with the Church will actually try to persecute us, but we cannot fall into the trap of engaging them in battle.
Our response should be to pray for our persecutors. Instead of arguing about our differences, we need to pray for their conversion. We need to show them the path to Jesus Christ. We can have a larger impact on the world by helping to convert souls, than we can fighting over our beliefs.
Modern society is actively challenging our Catholic morals and beliefs. Instead of returning hate for hate, do we have the courage to pray for our persecutors?