A Servant Is Not Greater Than His Master

‘If they persecuted me, they will persecute you,’ says Jesus. ‘If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.’

Blessed Solanus Casey
Blessed Solanus Casey (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11).

I found myself in an uncomfortable position several weeks ago when the work on my newly acquired home was finally finished. Recommended by a local realtor, the worker had done an exceptional job on all house-related matters, seemed to be a good family man and considered himself to be a Christian — all of which left me totally unprepared to hear his barrage of negative comments against the Catholic Church after he had completed the last of the repairs on my home.

As he loaded his truck, still parked in my driveway, I once again expressed my gratitude to him for the overall fine job accomplished on my house this past year. But it was a question of mine about a bumper sticker on the back of his truck that inspired his invective, which was most virulently expressed in his hatred for anything Catholic — the pope (no matter his name) and the Vatican.

As I listened, shocked, to this diatribe, I heard a voice say, “You will remain calm and show this man nothing other than my love, peace and joy. But neither will you remain silent.”

Somewhere in the middle of all of it, I found myself saying to this worker, “It’s Christ’s Church. If it’s broken, we have to fix it.” I may also have said a line or two against associating the Church solely with sexual abuse, but then calmly listened until he was done and politely said goodbye to him for good.

As I walked back into my house, I wondered sadly what his political views had to do with hating the Vatican. And what does being a Christian have to do with hate?

I too want to change my country for the better, but not by verbally destroying the image of my adversary. What have I accomplished if I allow the devil to make my behavior that of the people I oppose? And why hate me for being Catholic? Stunned, I thought to myself: I am hated for my faith.

Shortly after the worker had departed, I went for a walk nearby at the St. Felix Catholic Center in Huntington, Indiana, where once Blessed Solanus Casey had once lived. The peace of the former Franciscan friary is both relaxing and uplifting, in no small part because it is the ground where Father Solanus once walked. Himself a victim of discrimination because of the language barrier in seminary instruction associated with his heritage, Father chose to take the high road, keep the peace within the Church and embrace the role of doorkeeper. As a result, his impact in healing and in just listening to others had such an incredibly positive influence on those around him. I pray that my choice to deal peacefully with the insulting worker in my driveway will lead to his consideration to become a Catholic.

“For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to the flesh, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no flesh might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

O God, help me to live wisely in an increasingly post-Christian world. Fill me, Jesus, with your love that I may share it with others despite their acts of injustice to me and to other people. Help me to forgive those who misunderstand my religion and be at peace so that they will come to know your goodness and kindness. Father Solanus, pray for us!