Immersed in Christ: October 1, 2020
Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and
Doctor of the Church
also, Thursday of the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm declares unshakable hope: “I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27).
Job 19: 21-27 begins with Job’s plea to his friends to stop pelting him with platitudes. He is suffering, and their facile explanations are no help. But then Job makes his own profession of faith. He can speak with credibility, because he is drowning in the reality of his pain. And he wants his words recorded for all generations! “I know that my Vindicator lives…. whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him. And from my flesh I shall see God.”
Job goes to the essentials. He cannot explain his suffering. But he knows that God is, that God is faithful and will triumph over all evil, and that he, Job, will survive, somehow, to see it. Without knowing it, he was expressing implicit faith in the triumph of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.
This is the faith and hope that sustain all who are committed to establishing the reign of God on earth as stewards of the kingship of Christ. We may not be able to explain why God often seems to be losing — or absent — but we trust absolutely that Jesus will come again in triumph, and that we will see it. “I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.”
In Luke 10: 1-12 Jesus is as realistic as Job. He doesn’t send out his disciples with naïve expectations of getting an enthusiastic reception. The Good News won’t be perceived as good by everyone: “I am sending you as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
When we evangelize, we should test the waters before we dive in. Sound out the spirit of those to whom we are speaking. Listen to (and for) their spiritual experience.
Jesus says, “If there is a peaceable person there,” you can share peacefully. If not, you may have to “shake the dust” of that place from your feet. But like Job, we must have no doubt and leave no doubt about the ultimate outcome: “Know that the reign of God is near.” Regardless of acceptance or opposition, the world is going to be transformed. We will bring about the reform of social structures: in family and social life, education, health care, the prison system, business and politics. The “pilgrim” Church will discard policies of power and prestige. The national income will be diverted from swords to ploughs. We will focus, not on tools to kill but on stomachs to fill. And the wolf shall lie down with the lamb. “None shall hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.1 “I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.” We just don’t know when.
1 Isaiah 11: 6-9; 65: 25-26.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Make faith your answer to appearances.