THE WORD: Great is your reward

PHOTO CAPTION: “Ecce Homo” (Behold the man) is a painting by Italian master Caravaggio, circa 1605. The words “Ecce homo!” were spoken by Pontius Pilate as he displayed Christ to the crowd. The painting is part of the collection of the Palazzo Bianco, Genoa, Italy. (Public Domain)

As we reach the eighth and final Beatitude, we see an ending that mirrors the beginning. Just like the poor in spirit, the believers who are persecuted for righteousness shall also have the kingdom of heaven.

This final state of blessing is not bestowed upon every victim of persecution. Jesus was focused on those who are persecuted because of their righteousness — their obvious and uncompromising orientation towards God’s will.

Jesus said we should rejoice in our persecution, because our reward in heaven will be great. Peter said in 1 Peter 2:20 that suffering for doing good “is acceptable with God.” Jesus and his prophets were persecuted by those who did not believe in Christ. In John 15, Jesus reminded us that if you are “of the world,” the world will love you, but if you are not of the world, the world will hate you.

The Beatitudes present a humble path to happiness in this world and the next. The Beatitudes offer hope for the hungry, thirsty, meek, mournful and persecuted. Following the path requires a simple yet difficult commitment to following Christ.

MATTHEW 5:10-12

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.