Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), October 20, 2013 – Ex 17, 8-13; 2 Tim 3, 13 – 4, 2; Lk 18, 1-8
What counts is faith working through love (Gal 5, 6)
After affirming that the littlest faith is unbelievably a match to the greatest challenge and that faith saves, Jesus now wonders if he will find faith on earth when he returns. He thus indicates that we who continue to wait for his glorious coming are in utmost need of faith that is expressed in prayer and is strengthened through it.
Faith means essentially to be committed to God, relying on him completely, not on ourselves, not on our skills and possessions, not on our supposed righteousness, for only God justifies. It is to choose what is better: to take refuge in the Lord, rather than in human beings and princes (Ps 118, 89), in the rich and the powerful, whose life-style we perhaps aspire to.
Seen from the perspective of faith, the joys, lights and sorrows that we live while we seek the lasting city serve as a pledge of our future participation in the glory of the Risen One. In this regard, adversities reminded St. Vincent de Paul of Jesus’ passion before entering his glory; but the gentleness of St. Francis de Sales, for example, also made him proclaim, “How gentle you are, O God, O my God, how gentle you are, since there is so much gentleness in your creature, Francis de Sales” (Coste XIII, 78).
But in tough times especially, do they live by faith, yes, and are secure in hope and persevering in love, those who believe in the One sent by God ‘s love to overcome the world and to enable them to be more than conquerors (Jn 16, 33; Rom 8, 37). Those who still experience trials and tribulations always pray without becoming weary, convinced, because of their faith, that the righteous God will speedily secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night. Looking to God, the afflicted will be radiant and there faces will not blush for shame (Ps 34, 6-7); the lowly ones who seek God take heart, for he hears the poor (Ps 69, 33-34).
Hence, St. Vincent rightly says: “Give me a man of prayer, and he will be capable of anything. He can say with the apostle, ‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me’” (Coste XI, 83), in him in whom I have faith, to paraphrase the Pauline saying. But, of course, prayer does not only take place in chapels and churches but also in receiving rooms where the poor are given welcome, in the homes of the sick, on the street where the homeless wander around.
This is to say there is interplay between contemplation and action. Both will lead us to strive—in the imaginative and collaborative manner similar to that of Moses, Aaron and Hur, whether it is convenient or inconvenient—to evangelize the poor, comforting them, providing for their spiritual and temporal needs, assisting them and having them assisted in every way, by ourselves and by others (Coste XII, 87). This means imitating Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith, who giving his body up and shedding his blood for the forgiveness of sins, prays: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Ross Reyes Dizon