TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Being a genuine Christian is a very tall order – especially in a highly secularized and individualistic world like ours. Acquiring an impeccable character is conscientious labour of love to preserve one’s integrity. This journey begs for patience, endurance, humility, meekness, obedience and solidarity – even in the heat of the most clamorous calamity when temptations encircle and stare us in the face twenty-four seven and challenge to do the opposite of good.
Sometimes the most salient things challenge us to look the other way for expedient solutions and instant gratification at the expense of our salvation. For those who do not understand the importance and the role integrity in the formation of the human and Christian character, it is easy to jump to a rash conclusion and compromise their relationship with God by overlooking the commandments. What are our best options? There is only one choice for those who want to protect their honour before God: it is good to wait for the Lord (Ps.27:14; Lam.3:26).
Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4 is an astonishing portrayal of what it takes to build genuine Christian character and integrity. Those who believe in God grow more insistent in their plea to God; they do not cower in the midst of crisis. They do not look the other way for solutions. No matter how gripping the situation gets they do not compromise faith and uprightness; they do not gravitate towards superstition; they do not embrace ad hoc compromises that will endanger their faith in God. Genuine love is always stronger than expediency (Jn.14:23; Rev.3:18-22). That is what veracity is all about. It is the demonstration of unwavering devotion and loyalty until the end to be true to one’s self, to God and to others.
Christ Jesus for his part challenges us in Luke 17:5-10 to accept the inflexibilities of Christian stewardship humbly, meekly and obediently and await our just reward in the end. It is another way of saying, crisis and temptations are like crucibles and furnaces where the precious metals of the kingdom are tested and proven (Prov.17:3; 27:21). In one phrase, we call it “Redemptive Suffering”.
We are the precious metals of the kingdom. God is simply purifying, justifying and glorifying us through suffering in the world. In context with our stewardship, we prove our worth when like Christ during his Passion and Crucifixion refused to back away. Instead, Christ opted to fulfil the Father’s will by dying on the Cross than to sin. Christ refused to accede to the demands of his tempter and his executioners. God rewarded Christ; he raised him high; God gave him a name above all names (Phil.2:11). In the same way, God wants us to imitate the uprightness of his Son.
St. Paul’s letter to Timothy similarly, has many implications for us who are baptised into Christ. Having received the Holy Spirit, we must strive to the ultimate to portray the genuine character and truthfulness of Christ Jesus. We must never recoil in the face of trials and hardships. Truth and sincerity must carry us to the very end. In other words, we must exercise patience under fire. God, at the appointed time, will redeem and reward us for our honesty.
O God, when the going gets tough, stand beside me and guide me through the crucible and the furnace. With you, I can endure all things.