When Christians suffer persecutions and trials, we often say we're in spiritual warfare. We may even claim to be suffering redemptively, and many times this is the case. Nevertheless, Christians don't always suffer for being Christians (see 1 Pt 4:15-16). Sometimes we Christians suffer for not being Christians. In that case, our suffering is not spiritual warfare, for we, not evil spirits, are "our own worst enemies." Then we are not suffering redemptively, but justly. We are getting the wages of our sins (see Rm 6:23). We are being punished now to wake us up to our sinfulness so that we will not have to be punished on Judgment Day.
However, we don't learn from being punished if we wrongly portray ourselves as innocent martyrs valiantly fighting the evil one and heroically suffering for righteousness' sake (see Mt 5:10). Satan loves nothing better than for a person to focus on him rather than on their own need for repentance. Thank God for martyrs, but not every suffering Christian is one. Many suffering Christians are downright obnoxious or, even worse, sinful. If we would face this, then we could repent of our sins and be true martyrs, that is, witnesses.
Ask Mary to lay bare the thoughts of many hearts, including your own (Lk 2:35). Then you will see your sufferings realistically and answer God's call to repent.
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from August 1, 2010 through September 30, 2010.
†Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 8, 2010.