A few weeks ago, during a homily
, I suggested that we should take the opportunity of this Year of Faith to do what the Holy Father has proposed: That we learn about our Faith; that we live our Faith and that we share our Faith. Soon after, I thought, 'why don't we make this a challenge?' And so began the Great Year of Faith Challenge (#faithchallenge). Every week starting this week I will be posting a new challenge, to help us learn about, live and share our faith. You can visit my Facebook page
or follow me on Twitter
to learn more and to check out the weekly challenges.
The first challenge has to do with finding a quote from a Saint and using it to pray with every day. And so I have spent the week with a keen awareness of what a Saint may have said - but with a new sensitivity. It is no longer, "that's a nice quote," but "these are truly words to live by."
And so that takes me to this morning and today's first reading from the Book of Hebrews:
Let brotherly love continue.
Do not neglect hospitality,
for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.
Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment,
and of the ill-treated as of yourselves,
for you also are in the body.
Let marriage be honored among all
and the marriage bed be kept undefiled,
for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.
Let your life be free from love of money
but be content with what you have,
for he has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you.
Thus we may say with confidence:
The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?
Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb 13:1-8)
Isn't that good advice? Aren't those good words to live by? Trust God so we can say that "God is my helper!"
And then I read in today's Office of Readings, for the Feast of St. Jerome Emiliani:
Sons of the Society of the Servants of the Poor, and dearly beloved brothers in Christ: Greetings from your poor father. I urge you to persevere in your love for Christ and your faithful observance of the law of Christ. In word and work I set an example for you when I was with you. And so the Lord is glorified in you through me.
Our goal is God, the source of all good. As we say in our prayer, we are to place our trust in God and in no one else. In His kindness, our Lord wished to strengthen your faith, for without it, as the evangelist points out, Christ could not have performed many of His miracles. He also wished to listen to your prayer, and so He ordained that you experience poverty, distress, abandonment, weariness and universal scorn. It was also His desire to deprive you of my physical presence, even though I am with you in spirit as your poor, dear, beloved father.
God alone knows the reasons for all this, yet we can recognize three causes. In the first place, our blessed Lord is telling you that He desires to include you among His beloved sons, provided that you remain steadfast in His ways, for this is the way He treats His friends and makes them holy.
The second reason is that He is asking you to grow continually in your confidence in Him alone and not in others. For God, as I said before, does not work in those who refuse to place all their confidence and hope in Him alone. But he does impart the fullness of His love upon those who possess a deep faith and hope; for them he does great things. So if you have been endowed with faith and hope, He will do great things for you; He will raise up the lowly. In depriving you of myself and everyone else you have loved, He will offer you an opportunity to choose one of these alternatives; either you will forsake your faith and return to the ways of the world, or you will remain steadfast in your faith and pass the test.
Now there is a third reason. God wishes to test you like gold in the furnace. The dross is consumed by the fire, but the pure gold remains and its value increases. It is in this manner that God acts with His good servant, who puts his hope in Him and remains unshaken in times of distress. God raises him up and, in return for the things he has left out of love for God, He repays him a hundredfold in this life with eternal life hereafter.
This is the way God has dealt with all His saints. So it was with His people Israel after their period of trial in Egypt. He not only led them out of Egypt with many miracles and fed them with manna in the desert, He also gave them the promised land. If then you remain constant in faith in the face of trial, the Lord will give you peace and rest for a time in this world, and forever in the next.
From a letter to his brothers by Saint Jerome Emiliani
"Our goal is God." How often do we forget that! And God wants us to be holy, he wants us to trust him and he also wishes to test us like gold in the furnace - we are like gold! So we shouldn't be shaken in times of distress, we must always trust God and trust that He is bringing us towards him; towards holiness.
Those are great words to live by. May they inspire you through the day.