Suffering but not Approving

Easter 4 Thursday

1 Peter 2:23

“But he entrusted the matter to him who judges justly.”

 

Who told St. Peter what thoughts Christ had on the cross? He just said that he did not revile in return, that he did not intend to avenge himself, but that he, instead, showed nothing but love and goodness to his toxic enemies. What? Did he put up with such evil? He did not have to affirm or praise that they nailed him to the cross and killed him without any guilt of his. For the devil and his followers must not do this work in such a way that they not only inflict all kinds of torture and pain on Christ and his saints, and that Christ and his saints should not only endure this patiently and not desire any revenge, but that Christ and his saints should also thank and praise them as if they had done well. No, this is not to be done at all. For how can you call something “suffering innocently” when I should have to confess and say that it serves me right and is done well? This is why St. Peter admonishes Christians several times in this letter that they should not suffer as evildoers, thieves, or murderers, etc. But when I suffer innocently and injustice is done to me, I must not approve of it or encourage my enemies in his sinning. For by doing so, I would have assumed these sins and become guilty myself. … But the enemies want to say: “It is written that you should suffer and not revile in return, but thank God and even pray for enemies.” Indeed, this is true. But it is one thing to suffer patiently, not to begrudge the enemies good things, and to pray for them. It is a another thing to say that they are doing the right thing. For I am not to let go of the confession of the truth and insist on my innocence in my heart and with my words. Even if they do not want to hear the words, my heart nonetheless is to bear witness to me that injustice is done to me. I should rather put up with it if they could kill me ten times than to condemn myself against my conscience. This is also why Peter wanted to add this little piece: Christ, to be sure, did not revile in return or threaten, but he did not approve what they did to him. What, then, is one to do? … Here St. Peter says about Christ: “He entrusted the matter to him who judges justly.” What else was he to do? Since he knows that they do injustice to him and want to have done the right thing and there is no judge on earth, he must entrust it to his heavenly Father, the true Judge. For he well saw that the sin and blasphemy would not remain unpunished, in fact, that their judgment had already been reached, that the sword was sharpened, and that the angels had been commanded to overthrow Jerusalem … Look, this is what we are to do as well in our suffering: We are not to approve or consent to what they do to us, but also not to seek revenge, but entrust the matter to God who will judge it well. For we are unable to get justice before the world. This is why we must entrust it to him who judges justly and does not leave the persecution of his Word and of the believers unpunished. We want to pray for them that they would be converted and escape from the future wrath and punishment; and this is also what we do. … Look, this is the example of Christ, painted before the eyes of all Christendom, posited as a picture they are to follow, arming themselves with the same mind and thought, as St. Peter says elsewhere, 1 Peter 4:1, that they also would suffer and think in this way: If Christ, my Lord and Head, suffered for me with such great patience and meekness, how much more should I do so!

 

St. Louis ed., 12:556-559.

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