On Scripture: Called to Suffer for Doing Good

“If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, Leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps.”

— 1 Peter 2:20b-25

As I listened to these words from the Second Reading at this past Sunday’s Mass, my brother was sitting in Nassau County jail, serving a 30-day sentence for trying to rescue unborn babies from imminent destruction.

John had taken part in what have come to be called “Red Rose Rescues”: peaceful, prayerful efforts to offer mothers a last-moment, life-affirming alternative before they have their babies aborted. The rescuers enter an abortion mill, hand each of the waiting mothers a red rose, long a symbol of pro-life love for the unborn and their mothers, and offer to connect them with a pregnancy care center.

Of course, the abortion merchants don’t want them there, so they know they are going to be arrested when they decline to leave.

And they also know that in the current atmosphere—especially here in New York State, where this particular rescue took place on Long Island—the legal authorities are going to side with the abortion lobby that controls the levers of political power on which their positions depend, and meet its demands that these prayerful, nonviolent “offenders” go to jail.

They know this is not the late-1980s, when Operation Rescue launched with massive sit-ins at abortion clinics across the New York metropolitan area, flooding the system with hundreds of arrestees, too many to easily prosecute and incarcerate; when their numbers were fortified with leading Catholic figures like New York auxiliary Bishop Austin Vaughan and Rockville Centre diocesan Respect Life director Msgr. Jim Lisante, as well as such prominent and popular public figures as New York Giants all-pro Super Bowl champion Mark Bavaro; when John Cardinal O’Connor, while not taking part, made clear his prayerful support for their efforts to save lives; when Nassau District Attorney Denis Dillon publicly proclaimed that he would not take part in prosecuting the pro-life rescuers, and even New York City’s pro-abortion Mayor Ed Koch, who greatly esteemed and cherished his friendship with Cardinal O’Connor, made no move to call for harsh sentences.

This is not then. The Red Rose rescues involve only handfuls of participants; even those religious, political, and cultural leaders inclined to support the pro-life cause—far scarcer in New York now than 30-plus years ago—are reticent to defend peaceful civil disobedience, at least in this cause; DAs, prosecutors and judges will not defy the power of the abortion lobby, and its demands for unduly harsh punishment for these minimalist violations of the law in defense of life.

These peaceful, prayerful rescuers are very much alone.

And yet they persevere.

Because they know, in the words of Peter, that it is to this that they have been called; this is how they are to heed Christ’s example, and follow in His footsteps.

They know, as He taught and as our earthly legal authorities will ultimately learn, that God’s law, and His justice, hold primacy over human law, especially demonstrably unjust man-made laws.

Like Christ, they do not seek suffering. They seek to do good, by saving children’s lives and helping mothers in crisis. But if suffering is inflicted upon them for doing good, they, like Christ, accept it.

In doing so they also give example, as Christ did, for all of us. Not necessarily to do exactly as they are doing; we are not all called in the same way. But we are all called, in different ways, to do good and to oppose injustice—not only when doing good is popular, and will win us accolades; but rather, more so, when it is unpopular, and those opposed to the good we are called to do are determined to make us suffer for it.

That is where the pro-life cause stands today: threatened with retribution and vilification from powerful social, cultural, and political forces determined to uphold the “right” to destroy innocent pre-born human lives, and to persecute, silence, and crush any dissenting voices.

In the context of this defining struggle of our age, we are all challenged to ask ourselves: What am I willing to risk, to sacrifice, to suffer, in order to stand up for the most innocent, most defenseless, of God’s children; and to oppose this grave injustice which undermines the very foundation of human rights and equality under the law for which our nation, and our legal system, are supposed to stand?

What would Jesus do? What are we called to do?

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

11 thoughts on “On Scripture: Called to Suffer for Doing Good

  1. Thanks, Rick, for writing this piece.
    I preached this past weekend, partially, on the second reading – the text from the First Letter of St. Peter.
    It is good that we have heroic men and women in our midst who challenge all of us to suffer for the truth. It was a favorite theme of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. Our witness is incomplete if we do not take up this prophetic calling which arises from Baptism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Monsignor. Yes, our faith is founded on the redemptive suffering Christ, and we honor the witness of Catholic martyrs throughout the centuries who similarly endured extreme suffering in fidelity to the Gospel. Yet far too man Catholics in America are unwilling to endure even the mildest of consequences–like being ostracized from coveted social circles–for standing up for the faith.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hey Rick,
      Thanks for the article. You nailed it. It’s there in Peter and John. You must have been raised right.


  2. I was praying for John and the others at Mass today and remembered John’s health issues. I guess that wasn’t considered in sending him to jail.

    Also, I remember there was a restaurant fundraiser, but forget if there was a donation avenue for those outside LI.

    Prayers for the families including you, big brother.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Laura. No, health issues were not a consideration, I doubt John even raised them, as his health is good now. I understand his medicine needs were carefully accommodated while he was in jail (he was released yesterday), dietary restrictions less so. Still waiting for info on a defense fund to be finalized, when it is I will let you and others who have inquired know. Please continue praying, as John and 8 others face trial in August on federal charges involving the draconian pro-abortion FACE Act.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dee and I are praying for John, Brenda and our nieces and nephews as they suffer this injustice. May St. John the Baptist give them strength and courage. Thank you Rick for writing this excellent piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Arlene, yes, John the Baptist is an excellent patron for John and the other rescuers. Sad that many Catholic prosecutors and judges today, who regularly attend Mass and doubtless revere John the Baptist, cannot themselves rise above their comfortable offices to stand, as he did, against injustice. John was released yesterday, I haven’t spoken to him yet, leaving him to his family for the moment. Please keep praying, the federal trial begins in August, with far more dire consequences if the FACE law prevails.


  4. Thank you Rick for raising awareness of the bravehearts of the Red Rose effort. I will surely pray for them. Here in Charleston, thank the Lord, there is only one abortion facility and various groups including my Knights of Columbus council and parish continue to pray there. I’ll make others aware of the courageous Red Rose effort and need to pray for them.


    1. Thank you, Walter, for helping spread the word. And thanks to you, the Knights and parishioners in Charleston for your prayer presence and witness to life at that abortion facility.


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