Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
When we were kids, my brothers and sisters and I thought that you were not supposed to say the blessing before meals in a restaurant. You were not supposed to flaunt your faith in public. It probably had more to do with fear of being embarrassed if non-believers saw us praying. I think of that when I hear St. Paul telling Timothy, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). All three readings mention the difficulties that people of faith will encounter, and each reading has its own way of facing those hardships.
Jesus gives the practical advice: Look at the difficulties of being a disciple as just part of your job. No servant expects to be praised by his master for doing his job. So if the Lord says I must forgive those who hurt me, or be patient with customers, or share what I have with the poor—no problem; it’s part of the job of a disciple. If someone I know is in pain, I’m there to support them. Too tired to go to church after work on a holy day? Just taking care of business.
So how do we get the strength and self-control to roll with the punches? Paul reminds us in the second reading to stir the gifts of the Spirit into flame. If you take time to pray every day, if you look for God in other people, if you see difficulties as your share of the cross—you’ll find those gifts of faith, power, love, and self-control beginning to grow stronger inside.
We can trust that this is more than just wishful thinking by going to the first reading. When the prophet cries out for help with the misery and violence in the world, he hears God’s promise that the vision (of hope for deliverance) will be fulfilled even if it seems to be delayed. We too hear that promise when we start to get discouraged, for God’s promise “will not disappoint” (Habakkuk 2:3).