Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Because of his faith, the just man shall live. We hear in today’s First Reading the original prophetic line made so central by St. Paul (see Romans 1:17; . ; Hebrews )
We are to live by faith in Christ who loved us and gave himself on the Cross for us (see Galatians 2:20).
The world, though, can seem to us as seventh-century Judah seemed to Habakkuk - in the control of God’s enemies. The strife and discord we face in our own lives can sometimes cause us to wonder, as the prophet does, why God doesn’t seem to hear or intervene when we cry for help.
We can’t let our hearts be hardened by the trials we undergo. As today’s Psalm reminds us: Israel forgot His mighty works, lost faith in the sound words of His promise. They tested God in the desert, demanding a sign.
But God didn’t redeem Israel from Egypt only to let them die in the desert. And He didn’t ransom us from futility only to abandon us in our trials. He is our God and we are the people He shepherds always - though at times His mercy and justice seem long delayed.
If we call on the Lord, as the Apostles do in today’s Gospel, He will increase our faith, will stir to a flame the who has dwelt within us since Baptism.
Where there is no faith, there is no prayer. Who would pray for something he did not believe in?
So when the blessed apostle exhorts us to pray he begins by declaring: Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; but to show that faith is the source of prayer and the stream will not flow if its springs are dried up, he continues: But how can people call on him in whom they do not believe?
We must believe, then, in order to pray; and we must ask God that the faith enabling us to pray may not fail. Faith gives rise to prayer, and this prayer obtains an increase of faith. Faith, I say, gives rise to prayer, and is in turn strengthened by prayer. It was to guard against their faith failing in times of temptation that the Lord told his disciples: Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. *1
As Paul tells us in today’s Epistle, the Lord will always give us the love and self-control we need to bear our share of hardship for the Gospel - with a strength that can come from God alone.
Our task is to continue doing what He has commanded - to love and to build up His kingdom - trusting that His vision still presses on to its fulfillment.
For His vision still has its time. One day, though we are but “unprofitable servants,” we will be invited to eat and drink at our Master’s table. It is that day we anticipate with each celebration of the Eucharist.
Yours in Christ,
SOURCES & FOOTNOTES
*1 Center for Liturgy