Posts Tagged Faithfulness
Human beings have natural admiration for people who are so real, so true and so faithful to their words, promises, convictions and beliefs. On the other hand, we have that natural aversion against people who are pretentious, dishonest, and insincere. Why? Because deep within us we value truthfulness, sincerity, and faithfulness. In addition, experience teaches us that any form of hypocrisy, untruthfulness, and dishonesty can turn a person’s whole life into a “living lie”.
Truth as uprightness in human action and speech is called truthfulness, sincerity or candor. Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation and hypocrisy” (CCC 2468).
As a people of God and followers of Jesus, we have the moral obligation to seek the truth. Once we come to the knowledge of truth we are bound to adhere to the truth and “to live in the truth” (Rm 3:4; cf. Ps 119:30) and speak the truth. For God is a God of truth and calls us to the fullness of truth. God is a God who will never deceive us nor can be deceived by us. Once God has given his word or promises, God will fulfill that word, God will fulfill His promise in His own time, in His own ways even in ways seems to be unthinkable, scandalous and impossible to human beings!
Remember the story of the birth of Isaac. When an angel announced to Abraham that her wife Sarah who is barren and in her old age already that she will conceive and bear a son and name him Isaac, Abraham bowed down to the ground and laughed to himself in disbelief and said: “Can a child be born to a man who a hundred years old? Can Sarah give birth at ninety?
Sarah when she learned also that she would conceive in her womb and bear a son, Sarah laughed to herself and said, “Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, am I still to have sexual pleasure? But the Lord said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Will I really bear a child, old as I am?”” “Is that thing too difficult for the Lord to do so? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But God said, “Yes, you did.” As the Lord God has promised, the prophecy was fulfilled.
When angel Gabriel [Lk. 1:19] had appeared to Zachariah and told him that his wife would bear a son who must be named John. [Lk. 1:13] Zachariah, being of old age, did not believe Gabriel, he became mute and was to remain so until the fulfillment of this prophecy. [Lk. 1:20] When Zachariah wrote on the table that the name of the child must be John, three things became obvious: The prophecy that Elizabeth would bear a child was fulfilled. The prophecy that the child would be called John was fulfilled. And the prophecy that Zachariah would be able to speak again was fulfilled at that moment.
In view of all this, it is no wonder that “fear came over all the neighbors and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea.” [Lk. 1:65] Those who heard of these things, they asked themselves in their heart, “What then will this child become?” [Lk. 1:66]
Like God let us strive to be sincere, truthful and faithful in every moment and every aspect of our lives. Let us always guard ourselves against the evil and the danger of hypocrisy, duplicity, and dissimulation. Let us not allow lies, deceits, and pretentions ruin our lives and other people. Let our lives be credible and trustworthy because of our consistency and our ”palabra de honor.” One we have given our word, once we have given our promises, we have to fulfill them wholeheartedly, freely and generously! Say what you mean! Mean what you say!
“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet)
The new millennium has witnessed and continues to witness various and different faces of violence, division and situations of unpeace. Hardly any day passes that we do not hear the sad news of violent aggression and brutality unleashed against innocent people somewhere around the world. To make matters worse, perpetrators of these acts of violence often try to justify these atrocities by claiming that they are fighting a holy war in God’s name. Think of the crusades, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda in Iraq, and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. And the latest is the ISIS or ISIL.
Today’s readings are indeed a call to war: not a war against other people but a war against sin and evil; not a war against people we perceive as evil, but a war against the evil one, the devil.
Jesus shocked his disciples when he declared that he would cast fire and cause division rather than peace upon the earth. This is a disturbing word knowing Jesus as the Prince of Peace who has come “to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk 1:79) and to dispense peace “among those whom he favors” (Lk 2:14) Here he makes it clear that he cast fire and brings division rather than peace. In Matthew’s parallel verse (10:34), Jesus brings a sword.
Is Jesus contradicting himself on his teachings about love peace and unity? Is Jesus contradicting himself the fourth precept of the Decalogue or Ten Commandment which is, “Honor your father and mother!” Certainly not. Jesus, in saying those paradoxical words, did not intend to destroy family and other human relations, ties and institutions. Rather he was only telling his disciples, in a forceful language, the following:
First, to choose and to follow Jesus is a matter of personal choice. No can one can make decision for us. Not even the Church or the State. Not even our family. And when we choose, either we choose and follow Jesus or reject him. There is no middle way. There is no half-way. There is no other alternative. There is no other option. Please bear in mind that our sanctification and salvation depend on the kind of choice we make. Choose God and you choose life, happiness and peace.
Second, if we opted to choose and follow Jesus then our loyalty, obedience and faithfulness to him must be urgent, exclusive and unparalleled. When it comes to hierarchy of values and priorities in life, God always takes precedence over possessions and relations. To choose and follow Jesus only and always may sometimes bring division and conflict. This is the necessary consequence and cost of following Jesus. This substantially explains the paradoxical words of Jesus in today’s Gospel.
Third, Jesus’ message of love, peace and unity does not necessarily mean that we compromise with evil and tolerates injustices and wrong-doings. Peace and unity that we rightly desire can be achieved not by compromise, force and violence but by doing the will of God for us and through us. Let this Christian moral principles always guide us: Do good and hate sin! Love sinner and hate evil!
In today’s Mass, Jesus invites all of us to examine who we love first and foremost. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (2 Corinthians 5:14)? A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin because it is possible that family and friends can become our enemies when they prevent and hinder us from following and serving the Lord.
Let our “faith in God leads us to turn to him alone as our first origin and our ultimate goal, and neither to prefer anything to him nor to substitute anything for him” (CCC 229).