To him be glory forever and ever! (2 Tim 4, 18)
We get it right if we confess that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. But just like the one who got it right first, we are at times so slow to know the whole identity of the Messiah that sooner or later we hear the reprimand, “Get behind me, Satan!”
But let us not despair. What is decisive is God’s grace. Without it, what transcends us mortals is not revealed to us. With it, we who are incapable are able to do all things.
When the one who has been chosen is fragile, then he is unbreakable. The Lord gives him another name that corresponds to the entrusted ministry and enables him to serve as foundation of his unsinkable Church. A sinner is granted the power to open and close, to bind and to loose, so he may forgive, for everyone’s good, seventy times seven. Jesus prays for the presumptuous so that his faith may not fail and that, when he falls, he can rise up and strengthen his brothers, and convince them later that Jews and Gentiles alike are saved through grace.
The one who counts is God. He chooses for himself those who count for nothing. He appears finally to a persecutor in order to make him toil for the Church harder than those called first. He gives him strength to proclaim the whole Gospel. For his parts, the one set apart with St. Barnabas for the evangelization of the Gentiles continues to consider himself the foremost sinner and acknowledges that it is not he who toils, but rather the grace of God.
May we have Paul’s sentiment and Peter’s conviction. Successes are not due to our efforts. And those who know this have reason, as St. Vincent de Paul says, to mistrust themselves and greater reason to trust in God (Coste V 165). They avoid likewise “foolish self-congratulation and disproportionate disappointment” (Common Rules CM XII 4).
Those who stand firmly on the truth that credit must be given to God are humble. Unlike those sporting “wide phylacteries and long tassels,” they do not point to themselves, but rather to Someone greater, their Liberator; he must increase and they must decrease. Nor do they feel they have to show themselves the superiors (Coste XI 346). On the contrary, they humbly serve especially the poor, spending and being utterly spent. They imitate the mystery they celebrate in the Eucharist.
Unless we, the Church, live out our profession of faith, we will be part of the problem, not the solution, a stumbling-block, rather than a building-block, we will miss the mark.
Ross Reyes Dizon