Faith at Work LXXXVI

September 2011

Our eighth beatitude in this series of nine reads: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:10]. It connects with the first one as far the blessing is concerned – those who are poor become citizens of the kingdom just as much as those are not led astray by evil influences. It reminds me of Lord Acton’s saying that: “power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.” When Christianity was just beginning in the first century, the greatest earthly power was vested in the Roman Emperor. Jesus was powerfully loyal to his Father’s mission and was not reticent in speaking out truth against both the Jewish rulers and the political authorities. The conflict led inexorably to his trial and crucifixion. This month, on the 14th September, we celebrate the feast day of the Holy Cross. Legend has it that Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the true cross on a journey to Jerusalem in 326 CE. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on the site and was dedicated in 335 CE.

We sometimes talk of speaking truth to power when we wish to highlight issues that government should be prioritising on our behalf. Those in power often find themselves suppressing truth as inconvenient to their purposes and the early church was severely persecuted for its faith and preaching. It was only brought into prominence through the conversion of the Emperor Constantine and his drawing together of church and state. We are witnessing similar processes these days too. We can think back to Nelson Mandela speaking out about Apartheid in South Africa and determined to enable the native black population a fair say in the running of their country – he was imprisoned for his efforts and he was growing old when he was finally released, though not too old to become President. Now we are observing the uprisings across the Arab Nations, as suppressed parts of their populations grow weary of being subdued and under-valued. New countries are being born; new governments are emerging.

We need to be clear about what is right and not to be afraid to stand up for those values. We need to find a way to make our voice heard against practices that are divisive and unfair. We need to progress our faith into the whole of our lives so that they are filled with the truth of the gospel. We will then speak and act with the authority of Jesus and become partners with him in the kingdom that he came to establish. That is the result of following the eighth beatitude.

Loving God,
your king has been among us,
his glory has been seen:
empower us with your truth
that we too may become members
of your heavenly kingdom.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2011-08-17

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