A senator tells of a story about touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called "House of Dying," where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the clinic, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, the senator was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering that Mother Theresa and her sisters face daily. "How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?" he asked. Mother Teresa replied, "My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful."
Jesus warns his disciples about sinning against others and requires them to forgive as often as asked. The difficulty of these requirements leads the disciples to ask, “Increase our faith”. But even with increased faith, the disciples will still be servants required to fulfill their assigned tasks. Faithful service is not something extraordinary which merits praise and recognition; disciples are expected to be faithful in their service of the Master. Further, servants are servants for life. Whether a menial servant or a chief servant, there does not come a time when the master says, “your service and seniority entitles you to be served.” All in the Church, even the “apostles” to whom Jesus is speaking, are servants of the Master and they are servants for life. This Sunday is the only time in the three-year Sunday cycle that we read from the book of Habakkuk which was the first reading. It is chosen and edited for the pivotal final verse, “but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” This obviously is a comment on the theme of faith in the gospel, Habakkuk opens with a lament: the prophet complains to God about the “violence...destruction...strife [and] discord” all around. So insufferable is this condition that it requires vision which will surely come, even if it is delayed. In the meantime, “the just means “faithfulness.” “Faith” in this sense means remaining faithful to God and of life more than a commitment of the mind. This is the sense in the gospel and also in Paul for whom trust in God’s promises, rather than “words of the Law,” leads to salvation.
My dear brothers and sisters do we remain faithful and want to remain faithful until the end. Do we just stay faithful when things are going right in our lives or do we abandon that concept when things are going wrong in our lives. We live in a church today that many people have much struggle with the church and it’s teachings and even to the point of leaving the church and losing their faith because of past sins of the members of the body of Christ. Yes, when clergy or the faithful sin in a such way that it involves innocent victims there should be justified anger but should it be enough to lose our faith? When other Christians come to church on a regular basis but outside of a church they live a life that is contrary to our beliefs, it’s understandable when someone wants to label that person as a “hyprocrite” and again ask the question why do I have faith in this church? When the church reminds us of it’s precepts especially on sensitive topics we become enraged and wonder why does the church have so many rules and regulations and how can I have faith in this Church? It’s seems like I can’t be myself, they seem not to accept who I am?
My brothers and sisters first of all it’s not easy to be a Christian and to follow Christ. Never were we told at our baptism when we became members of the body of Christ that it would be easy. Instead we heard a few weeks ago, “To be my disciple you must pick up your cross and follow me.” Yes we will see at times that our members of this body do fail and it discourages us or we can not always seem to accept the teachings of the church and we continue to struggle but we must realize my dear brothers and sisters it wasn’t man who has established this church it was Jesus Christ who said, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” We must never lose faith my dear brothers and sisters and we must realize we are responsible in keeping the faith in which we assist the pope and bishops who are the successors of the apostles. You my dear brothers and sisters have the ‘sense of the faith (sensus fidei) which the laity, with the rest of the Church, have been given a supernatural 'sense of the faith' So if the hierarchy of the church were to ever stray on any matters of the faith you the faithful would not let that happen because of your role as baptized members.
St. Jose Maria Escriva says that “Faced by all those men without faith, without hope; by minds desperately near the boarders of anguish, seeking for a meaning in their life, you found your purpose: him! This discovery will permanently inject a new happiness into your existence; it will transform you, and present you with an immense daily hoard of beautiful things of which you were unaware and which show you the joyful expanse of that broad path that leads you to God.”
St. Jose Maria is telling us that we will be miserable if we don’t have our focus on him, have our faith in God. Having faith in him will give us the strength, the courage, the happiness and joy that is needed in our lives. So my dear brothers and sisters let us remind ourselves with the words of the refrain from the responsorial psalm, “if today you hear his voice harden not your hearts.”
Living Liturgy, p. 223