Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

Turning Persecution into Blessings: A Reflection by Fr. Michael Barrow, S.J.

Turning Persecution into Blessings: A Reflection by Fr. Michael Barrow, S.J.

Miss Universe Canada, Siera Bearchell who has gone to the Philippines to take part in the Miss Universe competition, has recently been plagued by anonymous online comments made about her need to lose weight. Those attacks really hurt her but eventually made her realise what was more important in her life​.

As she said, "We always focus on things we wish we could change rather than loving everything that we are. As soon as I started to love who I am, rather than trying to fit in to what people wanted me to be, I gained a whole new side of life." She discovered that she could be herself – and it too​k "being persecuted" to make her realise it. She seems to have discovered and put into words something of what Jesus tells us in today's gospel.

If we were asked to draw up a list of what makes people happy, most would say, "being well-off and being well thought of."But Jesus' list is quite the opposite of that. If you are concerned about being well off then what you possess and the desire to make more will take over your life and stop you being yourself. It can even destroy quite loving families. Similarly, if you are more concerned about what other people think, you can never be free to be yourself.

And then Jesus goes further and adds to his list: "being abused and persecuted" will lead you to happiness – because unless you get bitter about it, it will wake you up to realise what you really value in life.

Strangely enough, it is when we are persecuted and abused that we come to realise the truth of what Jesus was saying. That Canadian beauty queen will have gained far more from the abuse she received online, which eventually enabled her to see the value of being totally herself, than all the adulation she will receive if she wins first prize in the Miss Universe competition.

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