The First Pope’s Instruction on Suffering

Repaying Evil with a Blessing

As the universal shepherd is admonishing believers on the Christian way of life, he summarizes the virtues that are expected of believers and particularly calls us not to repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse. The willingness of Christians to forgive others is the hallmark of our faith in every age. The chief apostle beckons us to repay evil “with a blessing.” In this way, we allow grace to work and we in turn “inherit a blessing.” Holding on to bitterness and hate enslaves us, while forgiveness frees us. Peter’s guidance to “repay with a blessing” is in a sense a reflection of Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies.

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.

—1 Peter 3:8–9


Do I respond to evil with evil? Am I willing to die to myself and respond to evil with a blessing?


Lord Jesus, You are abundant in Your mercy and compassion. Have mercy on us. Grant us Your spirit of forgiveness. Strengthen us to respond to evil with a blessing. Give us a compassion­ate and understanding heart. Help us to forgive as You forgive us. For You are Lord forever and ever. Amen.

Suffering Evil for the Sake of Goodness

Saint Peter is reminding believers of the real possibility of suffering and persecution for the sake of the Gospel. He teaches that it is good to suffer for what is right. This wisdom is played out as many believers, and many popes, throughout Church history will suffer and be martyred for the sake of righteousness. Saint Peter tells us boldly: “Do not fear what they fear.” As Christians, we do not fear suffering or death. We know the Lord is risen and our inheritance is in eternity. As such, when persecution comes, we can remain steadfast and sanctify in our hearts Christ as Lord.

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.

—1 Peter 3:13–15a


Do I see my life from the perspective of eternity? Do I fear what unbelievers fear, or has hope dispelled such fear in my life?


Lord Jesus, You are the Resurrection and the Life. We hope in You! We accept whatever persecution might come for our faithfulness to You. We do not fear what the unbeliever fears. We place our confidence in You. Grant us Your grace. Help us to persevere. Show us Your glory. For You are Lord forever and ever. Amen.

This article is taken from a chapter of A Year with the Popes by Fr. Jeffrey Kirby, which is available from TAN Books.



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