Genesis 12:1-4; 2Timothy 1:8-10; Psalm 33; Matthew 17:1-9
Moses and Elijah appearing at the Transfiguration is understood to mean that the Law, represented by Moses, and the Prophets, represented by Elijah, are fulfilled in the Divine/human Person of Jesus Christ. He is the perfect image of the Father, therefore all revelation of all time and all places is in him; the Law, prophesy, wisdom, scripture, the inspiration of the Saints, the life of the Church all is Jesus Christ. The means by which we enter into and participate in all of this is faith. Like Abraham we are justified by faith, not by works or by law. The law is not a means of salvation, it is a tool of the Divine pedagogy; the teaching, first of the people of Israel, and then the Church, of God’s will for us, how we are to live. But by itself, it is a dead end, until we also follow Christ’s Law of Love.
If we, again like Abraham, who left his father’s house and the land of his ancestors to follow God, are to live by faith, what does it mean, how do we do it? St. Paul says in his second letter to Timothy, “Bear your share of the hardship which the Gospel entails.” That’s a lot of it right there, being willing to endure, to know going in that it is going to be a rough road, but one that will end in triumph. St. Paul also says, in second Corinthians, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” This means that whatever we see; in our life, in the world, in other people, is not the whole story, is not the whole truth. There is a truth that only faith can comprehend, the truth that God is always there, even in the darkest times, always caring, always providing, always raising us up. Living in faith is trusting in that Presence, trusting God’s goodness, mercy and love.
Have any of us ever gone an entire day – 24 hours – without worrying about something? Stressing over this and being tense about that, well I have some homework for us all: Pick a day in the coming week and choose not to worry about anything, anything at all. If we find ourselves slipping, repent, ask for forgiveness and try again. This is not pass or fail, it is an exercise, with two purposes. One, to show ourselves how much we do worry, and two, to prove to ourselves that it is unnecessary, unproductive, and unfaithful. Try to treat any hardship that comes along as an extra credit assignment to really trust God.
When we look at people like Abraham and Paul, who completely uprooted and changed their lives because God said, “Come follow me!”, we may think, “Well if God called me like that, I would be sure, and I’d follow.” But we are called, exactly like that, St. Paul writes, “God has saved us and called us to a holy life…” We do not face any more or greater obstacles to faithfulness and trust than anyone in the last four thousand or so years. Our biggest obstacle, as is everyone’s, is our own stubborn heart and will. We want to know how deep it is before we jump, not really trusting God to hold us up, or accepting that even our drowning may serve his will. We try to maintain the illusion of control, and it is an illusion, and the illusion that we are capable of managing our own life, and maybe a few other people’s as well, based on what? Our success up to this point? I don’t think so.
The Lord said to Abram, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you…” We are that great nation, along with all people of true faith, and we are blessed by God. We are blessed first and foremost by and as the Church, the Body of Christ, the People of God. We are also blessed that we live in a time and place where the free exercise of our faith is mostly untrammeled by government, where we can freely assemble and worship, where we are not under the threat of violence by our neighbors for our faith. If we fail in faithfulness or trust, the cause is in us – not out there. Sometimes I think that the biggest reason we fail, is that we don’t really try. We pay it lip service, but when it comes right down to it, we give in and start worrying and fretting and micro-managing God. We need to stop, which is why I gave out the assignment, and I would like to know how it went, I don’t need a written report, but let me know, and I’ll share how it went with me.
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