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When misunderstood and hated

That gospel episode where Herod the tetrarch was perplexed about Christ and was more disturbed than simply curious about him, (cfr. Lk 9,7-9) reminds us that if we are to be like Christ, we should be ready to be misunderstood and even hated.

Like Christ, we can be a sign of contradiction to some people. We should therefore learn how to handle that condition the way Christ handled his. It’s going to be an unavoidable feature in our life, especially nowadays when there are many powerful and influential people straying away from God’s will and ways.

In this life, in this world, we just have to be ready to get dirty without compromising what is truly essential in our spiritual life. Evil is unavoidable in this world, and we just have to know how to deal with it, always focused on going toward our eternal destiny with God in heaven.

We should not worry too much about the misunderstanding and even hatred against us that we can provoke in others, because we have been given all the assurances that if we are with God, everything would just turn our right. The challenge now is how to handle the many evil things that will always get mixed up with the essential good of this life and of this world that all come from God.

Evil does not have the last word, unless we let it. It is the good that will have the last word. And so we just have to learn how to go through such things even to the extent of cooperating with evil materially, not formally, if only to change things for the better.

In this, we should look at Christ not only as the model but also and most especially as the power to enable us to derive good from evil regardless of all the dirt involved in the process.

St. Paul has something relevant to say in this regard. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,” he said, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5,21)

That is why Christ allowed himself to take on all the suffering so unjustly inflicted on him and ultimately to offer his life on the cross to bear all the evil of our sins in order to conquer sin and death itself with his resurrection.

We have to understand then that our life here on earth, if patterned after that of Christ, cannot but get involved with the dirt of evil. It would be naïve on our part if we think that Christian life is pure clean living pursued in a sterilized environment as if in some controlled laboratory.

In this, we have been amply warned by Christ himself. “In this world,” he said, “you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33) More graphically, he said:

“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.” (Mt 18,8)

We just have to learn how to suffer, how to let go even of some legitimate things if only to get what is truly essential. In other words, we have to learn how to get dirty and how to suffer with Christ.*

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