Our readings this week emphasize the need for a strong practicing faith, in particular, when there are difficulties to be faced in life. In the Gospel today we hear the apostles ask Jesus to increase their possession in the Kingdom of God. Jesus asks: “be careful what you ask for”. To become great in the Kingdom of God means annoying the leading characters in this world (and they don’t like being tested). The Apostles’ ambition were getting ahead of them. This was because they were getting nearer to Jerusalem and the strong forces that were against the message of Jesus were making their presence felt. The apostles were unnerved by this. To date they had been warmly welcomed by the people as they travelled along and Jesus preached His message. Jesus warns them (and us) … the world does push back; and, now the leaders make their displeasure known. Jesus (and His Church) is to comply to current social standards … not the other way around.
In the first reading from Isaiah (written about 550 years before the birth of Christ) recalls a similar situation. Israel is in exile – the people are in slavery, deportation or dead. Their faith in God is shaken. But the prophet proclaims the same message of perseverance in the face of these many trials. Know God is watching (and refining) the Faith (not world leaders). But, because of laziness to respond in witnessing the faith in ones life causes a power vacuum that evil will always fill. The moment we stand for the Truth, the light of that truth will reestablish common sense in a confused and messed up world.
Likewise, in our own day we are facing very difficult times as a country and in each household. We can ask ourselves; why is the Lord not answering our prayers? How come people are suffering? Jesus calls the apostles and each one of us to hold firm. Don’t fall away because of these testing times (we are being refined … made more pure … more perfect). Our faith will be rewarded. Remember that it is always easy to be a person of faith in good times (when we are enjoying the blessings the Lord sends our way); the real challenge … to be a person of faith when the Lord appears to be distant and challenges are presented instead. Let us pray for a strong faith and constancy in our lives.