PRAISED AND PERSECUTED
The words of Jesus about ‘the Kingdom of heaven is something to be conquered and violent men seize it’ (Mt 11:12) are a little enigmatic. But there is something undisputable: forces of evil are present in history, there are interests opposed to the divine plan, who make war against its triumph. The Apocalypse calls the martyrs ‘those who proclaimed the word of God and were slain for its sake’. (Ap. 6:9) Claret had to often meditate on these texts as in his missionary life persecution was always present. His name came to be a sign of infamy to the point that a nephew of his, a small industrialist, changed his surname to save his business.
Certainly, the time of Claret was politically very turbulent. The text we are reflecting on refers to his time as a missionary in Catalonia (1840 – 1850): always in civil war (the Carlists) either full blown or latent, every gathering of a crowd resulted in suspicion. The great missionary was always faithful – although many deny it, and even today there are those who don’t believe it – to a motto: ‘never meddle in politics.’ He did all the balancing possible so that, in that area so divided, neither liberals nor Carlists could find support in his preaching or be offended by it. Nobody could confuse his sermons with a rally.
The proclamation of the Gospel always carries with it a moral imperative and as such, a social criticism. But this has to be founded on the Gospel itself and not on political opinions, which are all debatable. Jesus neither belittled nor praised the occupying Roman power nor the fight for the independence of Palestine by the Zealots. The evangelical ideal is so superior to political programmes that the Christian, when voting for a party, does nothing but ‘opt for the less bad’