OUR FAITH IS MADE STRONG IN DIFFICULTY
📖Isa 35:1-6a, 10; Psalm 146:6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10 (R. Isa 35:4); Jam 5:7-10; Matt 11:2-11
🎤OUR FAITH IS MADE STRONG IN DIFFICULTY
The entrance antiphon for today’s liturgy says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.” Indeed, the Lord is near. In our world today, a lot of happenings deny us happiness and sometimes make us to begin to look elsewhere, besides God, for salvation.
There are cases of religious violence, economic recession, unemployment, childlessness, great illness, sudden death of a close relation, kidnapping and so on. With all these, many people would begin to question the real presence of God among us today.
That was also the situation in which John the Baptist found himself in the Gospel. He had expected a messiah who is coming to judge the people with fire and power as we were told in the Gospel of last Sunday (see Matt 3:1-12, especially 7-12). But Jesus reminded him that this messiah is one in accordance with the prophecies about him; instead of being an added burden upon the poor, he provided for their needs (cf. Matt 11:4-6) and instead of outrightly punishing the sinners, he sought their repentance (see Ezk 3:11; Matt 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32; 19:10).
Therefore, the message of Isaiah in the First Reading best suits this expected messiah. He is the one who is to give hope to the hopeless and courage to the fearful. Hence, he says to us, “Be strong, fear not” (Isa 35:4). Some other translations of the bible would rather say, Be strong! Do not be afraid.
Incidentally, this expression, “Do not be afraid” occurs about 365 times in the bible, equalling the number of days we have in a year. That informs us that God is ceaselessly telling us each day, “Do not be afraid.” In Matt 28:20 he explains the reason why we should not be afraid, “Behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31). In all tribulations that might come to us in life, we are more than conquerors by the power of him who loved us (cf. Rom 8:37).
So in today’s liturgy, the season of Advent continues in its manner of encouraging us in our difficulties and reminding us of Gods faithfulness to his promises in our different life situations. Whatever the situation might be remember that Christ sits in power in the heavenly places, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:21).
Like the Prophet Isaiah, in the First Reading, St. James, in the Second Reading, encourages us not to lose heart but to wait patiently upon God who would surely fulfil all his promises for us. Remember that it is our endurance that would gain for us, our lives (cf. Luke 21:19).
Beyond that, St. James equally informs us of the need to show the details of our faith through our good works as Jesus did. It is true that Jesus is the expected messiah but he left us the job of completing God’s Kingdom. He is going to judge us on how well we are able to carry out this job. “Blessed are we if we do not lose faith in Jesus. And twice blessed are we if we show forth our faith in deeds of love and mercy.”
In our life’s difficulties, may he give us the grace of holding on to him till the end without losing faith, and in the end, may we emerge victorious as his word promises us (Rom 8:37) amen.
Join us in praying for God’s intervention in the life of Fr. Sam and all priests and persons in captivity.
Have a blessed Sunday celebration. Peace be withyou.