The Responsorial Psalm reminds us when things look bad: “The Lord will not abandon his people” (Psalm
In Romans 11: 1-29 Paul first looks for some way God has been able to draw good for the Gentiles out of the Jews’ infidelity. But he still proclaims God’s faithfulness to his Chosen People: “Blindness has come upon part of Israel until the full number of Gentiles enter in, and then all Israel will be saved…. God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” The “when” and the “how” of Israel’s conversion are beyond our power to predict. But Paul gives us a principle: God is faithful: “The Lord will not abandon his people.”
We know that Jesus assured the Church, “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever” (John 14:16). “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). We know the Church will survive and glorify God. But we have no assurance the Church will flourish or survive in any particular country, place or time. It is our task, as stewards of Christ’s kingship, to take responsibility for that. We need to pray and trust as if everything depended on God, but act as if everything depended on us — encouraged and sustained by the truth that “The Lord will not abandon his people.”
In Luke 14: 1-11 we see another way the leaders of Israel failed their people. Jesus noticed that in the house of “one of the leading Pharisees” the guests were “trying to get the places of honor at the table.” He warned against this. When people who have position in the Church desire to set themselves apart from others, to appear more important or “higher” than others, they are acting contrary to the Gospel. Jesus said to his apostles, who would be the first bishops in the Church, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave” (Matthew 20:25). Anything that makes the clergy or bishops seem to be “higher” or holier than other Christians because of their role or function is deceptive and ultimately destructive. “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled.” And the Church who exalts him will be humbled as well. When protocol proclaims value, true value becomes invisible. Any organization built on the phony foundation of “merit by appointment” is asking for failure.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Respect value credited by faith, not facade.