"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Thursday, April 12, 2018

BEARING INJUSTICE by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

"Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not:
but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly."--1 St. Peter it. 22. 

One of the hardest trials, my dear brethren, to which we can be exposed; indeed, perhaps the hardest one of all, is to be condemned unjustly. And the condemnation need not be pronounced in court, and published to the world. It need not even be given by public opinion; no, there may be only a few who share in it, perhaps only one, and that may be one whose judgment is not of much weight; still, to be falsely judged, to be accused of what we have not done, to have even our motives misinterpreted, is a pretty heavy cross to bear. 

How often will you hear people alleging as a reason for a permanent breach of friendship with some one, that that one has belied them? It is of little use to point out that the person who is or seems to be a false accuser, may really not intend to be guilty of falsehood, nor be conscious of rash judgment, but may in his or her heart actually believe the charge, and feel not only justified, but even under an obligation of conscience in making it, and thus be guiltless before God. No, the sting is perhaps even greater, that he should believe a thing about us that we feel is not true, and could not be.

Nor is it enough to say that there are many things which we ought to be judged guilty of, but are not; and that so we can afford to take some punishment that we do not deserve, as we escape a good deal that we do. No, we say to ourselves: '' I would not mind it so much if it were true; I would rather take the burden of all the many wrong things that I have done, than of one that I have not." Perhaps that would not really be the fact, but we feel as if it were.

I think, then, that to find a real cure for our heartache about matters of this kind, we must take the one which St. Peter gives us in this Epistle of today. We must take refuge under the shadow of the cross of Him who, as the Apostle says, "Suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps." The Cross of Christ is the only remedy in the last resort for all the pain and misery of the world, as well as for its sins; and we may as well come to it at once as wait till other consolations have failed.

Let us, then, lay to heart our Lord's example in this matter, as St. Peter tells us; let us keep it always by us, to be ready for use at the first moment. Let us consider how slight and insignificant are all the false judgments that can be made about us, miserable sinners that we are, compared with that which was passed on Him, the Saint of saints; on Him who was not merely holy, but holiness itself, the source of all sanctity, the Giver of every virtue that we can have. Let us consider how He was reckoned with the malefactors, how He was condemned not merely to death, but to the shameful death of a criminal; and how not merely one or two, but the crowds of His own people, whom He had come to save, turned against Him and believed all the false charges which His accusers made.

And let us not imagine that, being in truth God, His human nature was made insensible to all this outrageous injustice by its essential sanctity, or by the homage of the angels, or of those on earth who really knew and loved Him and remained faithful to Him. No; it was no more rendered in this way insensible to the pain of the false charges than it was to the sharp piercing of the nails driven through His hands and feet. Indeed, that He could much better have borne". His infinite purity and sensitiveness to sin only made these suspicions and accusations of it the more intolerable ; physical suffering was little in comparison.

Yet, as the Apostle says, in this He did not defend Himself. He was willing to drink this bitter chalice to the dregs. When He was reviled, He reviled not again. He neither cleared Himself, which He could easily have done, nor took the poor remedy which we sinners are too apt to take, of accusing His accusers.

Let us then, when thus tried in our poor way, ask Him to give us the grace to do as He did, and even, if it be possible, to rest for a time at least under accusations which we might remove, when the honor of God is not concerned. And let us remember not to be guilty of rash judgment in our turn, but make, as He did, every possible excuse for those who belie us; let us believe that, so far as they are wrong, they know not what they do. And, lastly, let us take the greater pains to abstain from uncharitable thoughts or words about our neighbors, thus exposing them to a trial which we have found so hard to bear.