June 2013

"If you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval" (1 Peter 2:20)

In this letter, the apostle Peter explains to his communities the genuine spirit of the Gospel in its practical applications. He refers, in particular, to the condition and state of life that each one has.

Here he addresses the slaves who converted to the faith and were — as were all slaves at that time — suffering mistreatment and even gross injustices. In a sense, his words are not directed only to slaves but to all those who, in every time and place, experience misunderstandings and injustices by others, whether those others be over them or not.

“If you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.”

To all those who find themselves in these circumstances, the apostle recommends not giving in to the instinctive reactions that rise up, but imitating Jesus’ behavior. Peter exhorts these persons, in fact, to respond with love and recognize the grace that is present even in these difficulties and misunderstandings. He recommends that they view them as circumstances allowed by God so they can demonstrate a true Christian spirit. Moreover, by doing so they can — through love — bring those persons who may not understand them to Christ.

“If you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.”

Some people might cite this and other similar passages in Scripture to make the point that Christianity encourages people to be submissive, a disposition that dulls the conscience and renders a person passive in the face of injustice.

But this is not so. If Jesus asks us to love also those who do not understand us or who mistreat us, it is not because he wants us to be insensitive to injustices. On the contrary! He asks us to love those who mistreat us because he wants to teach us how to build a truly just society. We can do it by spreading the spirit of true love, beginning with ourselves and taking the initiative in loving.

“If you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.”

How can we then live these words this month?

We too can be misunderstood and mistreated in many different ways. They can vary from thoughtless remarks and rudeness, from malicious judgments, ingratitude and offences, to very serious injustices.

In all these situations, too, we must bear witness to love, the love that Jesus brought on earth, which is love for everyone and therefore also for those who mistreat us.

These words can help us never to forget that our first duty as Christians — even in the legitimate defense of justice and truth — is to love. This new attitude toward our neighbor can help us have the understanding, the acceptance and the mercy that Jesus had for us. In this way, even in defending ourselves, we will never break the relationship with our neighbor or give in to resentment or revenge.

By living these words, we become instruments of Jesus’ love, and then we can bring our neighbor to God.

Chiara Lubich

Each month a Scripture passage is offered as a guide and inspiration for daily living. This commentary, translated into 96 different languages and dialects, reaches several million people worldwide through print, radio, television and the Internet. Ever since the Focolare’s beginnings, founder Chiara Lubich (1920–2008) wrote her commentaries each month. This one was originally published in May 1990.

This monthly leaflet is a supplement to Living City, the Focolare magazine (livingcitymagazine.com). People’s experiences of how they put the monthly sentence into practice can be read in Living City or in books published by New City Press (newcitypress.com).

For information and to subscribe to this leaflet or to the magazine, write to: Living City, 202 Comforter Blvd, Hyde Park, New York 12538; tel: 845-229-0496; email: livingcity@livingcitymagazine.com. Visit focolare.org (international); focolare.us (U.S.).

© 2013 by Living City of the Focolare Movement, Inc.

Read more

Brandl, Gary and Tom Ess, OFM. “Trustworthy Witness,” The Gospel in Action: A New Evangelization Day by Day, New City Press, 2013, p.54–61.

Lubich, Chiara. Christian Living Today: Meditations, New City Press, 1997

Lubich, Chiara, “Even Our Enemies,” The Art of Loving, New City Press, 2005, p.41.

For next month:

“For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Gal 5:14)