Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada



BLESS THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU!?

Does God demand the impossible? Or does He want us to be slaves who accept the most horrible things without complaining - and without making any effort to change or make things better? It simply could not be that the One who made everything "very good indeed" as we read in the creation account in Genesis could be a sadistic monster who shows us and invites us to win blessings that shall always remain inaccessible to us. The beauty of this world speaks of a God who is good, generous and reasonable.

But how then to explain this command of Paul's in today's Epistle - a command that re-echoes the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them" (Romans 12:14)?

We can find a clue from Jesus' attitude to Pilate when that earthly ruler told Him that he had the power to let Him go and the power to crucify Him. Jesus answered Pilate: "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above" (John 19:10-11). He accepted that, notwithstanding the good or bad intentions of those who acted in this drama of His life and ministry, all authority really came from His Father in Heaven.

He believed in His Father. He loved Him and trusted in His good will. He was confident that everything the Father permitted would lead to good - a good so exceedingly good that no one except the Father Himself could even imagine it. Thus Jesus found in His faith the power to accept every challenge, every test and tribulation.

And what good did He achieve? Greater than anyone could ever imagine! Death vanquished. God and humanity reconciled - perfectly one forever. Paradise - open to all. All authority given to Jesus by His Father. The dreams of the prophets and all those who suffer - more than realized!

But one must believe in order to see this victory. And real faith does not come without challenges to it. Thus we must accept each occasion to exercise it with the energy of those who are in the process of making their dreams come true. And what of those who bring us those challenges by persecuting us? Why, we must bless them! They are angels who do us an important service without which we should never realize our goals and ambitions.

As we bless our persecutors we find a special kind of energy which gives us wings to overcome every test and use it to advance further towards our goal: the life of God's children, one with Jesus and with the Heavenly Father - in joy eternal, in boundless love, full of excitement and sweetness, in a paradise from which no one can ever evict or deprive us!

V. Rev. Ihor Kutash