When I was a kid, one of my favorite shows to watch was Veggietales. One of the stories from the Veggietales series was inspired by the story of Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meschach, and Abendego, who called Rack, Shack, and Benny in this kid-friendly retelling. The three boys worked in a chocolate bunny factory and were promoted to factory managers when they decided not to eat as many bunnies as their co-workers.
However, their lives were quickly put in danger when their boss Nebbie K. Nezzer created a giant bunny statue and asked all of his employees to bow to it and for the three boys to lead a song praising the bunny. The boys refused to do so because they wanted to honor God, so Nebbie threw them into a furnace.
When the three boys were inside the furnace, one of Nebbie’s men looks inside and says: “Hey boss, how many guys did we throw into the furnace?” Nebbie replies: “Uh, three?” His employee said: “Well it looks like there are four guys in there now and one of them’s real shiny!” Rack, Shack, and Benny were quickly taken out of the furnace and Nebbie realized that God saved them from the burning flames.
Doing the right thing is always easy when everyone else is doing it. It’s a lot harder to do so when you’re doing good, but end up suffering for doing so. In today’s passage, Peter reminds us that when we suffer for doing the right thing, we are suffering with Christ. We shouldn’t be afraid of suffering because Christ is the reason for our hope.
The second episode of Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism series looks into the Beatitudes under the lens of St. Thomas Aquinas.
The last beatitude that Fr. Robert Barron looks into is
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”
Fr. Robert Barron examined the previous beatitudes as counterpoints to what he calls the four “addictions”: wealth, pleasure, power, and honor.
The last beatitude is counterpoint to the addiction to honor.
At first, I didn’t understand how honor could be an addiction. I come from a culture that values having honor and dignity. However, there are a lot of ways that the desire for honor can develop into something you want to have more and more of no matter how much you already have. We may not want a million dollars or a position of power or the pleasure of eating giant hot fudge sundae, but there are many times in our lives that we seek the approval of others.
And unlike the other three addictions, honor is something immaterial (unless it comes in the form of gold plaques and various degrees or certifications). According to Fr. Robert Barron, the perfect example of how the Beatitudes are lived out is found in Christ crucified.
The crucified Jesus didn’t have any wealth. He was stripped naked and his hands and feet were nailed to the cross. He couldn’t enjoy any pleasure because he endured agonizing physical, psychological, and even spiritual sufferings. He was powerless, unable to move or defend himself.
Most of all, on the cross, Jesus was denied any kind of honor and dignity, as evidenced by the jeers of
“If He’s the Son of God let him come down from the cross so that we may finally believe!”
The best way to follow what Peter says in today’s passage is to lead a life of humility. Humility is the complete opposite of seeking honor. A great prayer that will help you increase in humility is the Litany of Humility, which is one of my favorite prayers. Through humility, we learn to die to ourselves and be risen in Christ.
Today’s featured song is “I Shall Not Want” by Audrey Assad, which was inspired by the Litany of Humility.
Stay humble in faith, dearest sisters in Christ!