24th Sunday of Ordinary Time
“Reward those who have hoped in You, and let your prophets be proved true.” (Sir 36:21) Sirach prays to the Lord not only for a crown of the labors which those faithful to God must undergo, but also that God grant the strength necessary to remain faithful to Him. Sirach knows that it is not easy to be faithful to God, to remain mindful of Him, to keep His commands, to let God’s love live in and work through him. But he knows that it is only by the grace which strengthens us in times of trial that we are to be made just recipients of the gift of eternal life.
What does this strength look like? Today the prophet Isaiah gives several sobering examples. “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who tore out my beard; my face I did not hide from insults and spitting.” (Is 50:6) The Lord’s prophets were “proved true” often at great cost. Similarly, Our Lord told the disciples “that the Son of Man must suffer greatly…” (Mk 8:31) This teaching was not immediately accepted, and Peter, whose confession of faith had been so great, tried to contradict Jesus when He spoke about the Passion. Jesus’ response? “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God, does but as human beings do.” (Mk 8:33)
Let us ask the Lord for the gift of thinking more as He does. Let us ask for the strength to live truly the faith in a way which helps us concretely to love those around us, especially when they are hungry or cold. (Jms 2:14-18) Such love may be difficult and come at personal cost to us, but it is by such works of love that our faith is proven true.