In today’s reading from 1 Peter for the memorial of St. Wenceslaus, we hear about righteousness and suffering. “Righteous” is a tricky word. It’s associated with surfers and the ‘70s and, in my mind, has an air of insincerity as if someone is acting righteous more for applause than because it’s the right thing to do.
Merriam Webster defines it differently – “acting in accord with divine or moral law” – and it’s that definition that makes the Biblical use of it make sense. Paul warns Peter that righteousness may lead to suffering but that’s okay. The one who suffers for doing good is blessed. This can be hard to hear. We’d like to think that if we do good we will be rewarded with good – as if there is some sort of karmic bank into which we make deposits and withdrawals. If we treat others well, we will be treated well.
It’s not like that though. The reality, especially in today’s combative culture, is that being righteous – acting in accord with divine law – is going to bring some suffering. It may not be big. It may not be public mockery or losing a job. It will most likely come from people we know and love and it may be small comments or little jabs.
Pursuing holiness comes with a cost. In choosing to follow Christ’s teachings, we are choosing to live differently from the majority of people around us. As much as people can be inspired by being around someone who pursues goodness, people can also find fault with it. If you’re a regular Sunday Mass attendee, you may have heard comments from people about how “holy” and “good” you are. If you leave work early to go to adoration, someone may say something slightly snide. When it’s a stranger, we let it roll; when it’s a friend, it hurts.
If you prioritize your faith and your relationship with Jesus, people will have comments and opinions and you may suffer. Today’s culture is not righteous, so when we try to live those values, it is brought to our attention how others feel.
But St. Paul tells us we will be blessed and because of that we can rejoice. It’s hard to hear the comments or see the looks that cross people’s faces but if it means we are doing the righteous thing then we can rest with Jesus in that.
In the end, the only one whose opinion matters is God’s and he will be generous in his blessings.
Merridith Frediani loves words and is delighted by good sentences. She also loves Lake Michigan, dahlias, the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, millennials, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids. She writes for Catholic Mom, Diocesan.com, and her local Catholic Herald. Her first book Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Adoration is available at Our Sunday Visitor and Amazon. You can learn more at merridithfrediani.com.
Feature Image Credit: markusspiske, https://pixabay.com/photos/valhalla-monument-goddess-bust-3706774/