Memorial of Saint Jospeh Pignatelli, S.J.

Today’s first reading (Wis 2:2-3:9) offers us a magnificent image of the faith that Jesus offers us. Upon reflection, it should be obvious that the one who is “faithful” is not so because of a stubborn holding-on-to this or that position, but rather because of the fidelity that one demonstrates to a person to whom one is attached. God, himself, is a model of faith. The God of Israel is faithful: he is a Father who keeps his promises. All the other gods deceive us, and we will always be disappointed if we place our faith in human beings. But “those who trust in God shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love” (Wis 3:9).

Even if human beings disappoint us when we place our trust in them, our faith in God calls us into relationship with others as well. Where others show themselves unfaithful in their relations with us, we are, by God’s grace, to show ourselves faithful, as God has shown himself faithful to us, even where we were unfaithful to God. This is hard, even impossible, without God’s grace. But where we receive this grace, we manifest the miracle of God’s grace at work in the world through our lives.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though. This is not an easy grace. In the sight of those who taunt us, we may appear to be “afflicted” and “passing away” (Wis 3:2-3). But so Christ seemed when his tormentors thought that they were getting the better of him. But the truth is that it is not the tormentors who have the upper hand, but the love of God that triumphs when, by God’s grace, we do not succumb to hatred, but continue to love even when we are not loved.  “If before men, indeed, [we] be punished, yet [our] hope is full of immortality,” (Wis 3:4) for the grace and hope from which we live is not in the passing things of this world, but in the glory and love of God that is revealed through it. Those who live from the life that Jesus offers may seem to be worth no more than straw, fit only for burning, but “in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble” (Wis 3:7).

November 14th, 2017