Strength of Faith
They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith.
Today, the scriptures and gospel present three examples of strength of faith. I’d label them: Shut up; Ouch, it hurts; and Get out of here. How should we stay strong when we encounter those?
In the Old Testament reading we hear God’s instruction to Ezekiel. He must go to the house of Israel to prophesy against it. God would not let them get off so easy, ignorant of what He wants. God knows that Ezekiel would not have it easy, but God knew the people had to hear His voice; the word spoken so that they might correct their behaviors. The result would be what it would be, but whether they heed or resist—they shall know that a prophet has been among them. Ezekiel certainly heard the words, Shut up. Even so, he prophesied in strength of faith, in accord with God’s instruction.
So too today. Those hearing God’s word have a choice, to heed or resist, to have a full life in God, or to lack. We, like Ezekiel, must proclaim the word, speak the truth, share the gospel, and remain strong in faith even if we hear: Shut up!
In our Epistle, St. Paul discusses the thorn of Satan he received. Whatever the set of temptations he was subject to, no matter how strong the enemy, he recognized that the grace of God was stronger. He knew that the grace of God amid weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints built up his strength of faith.
We have thorns of Satan as well. Yes, ouch, temptations big and small hurt. That does not mean we are defeated. It does not mean stop, but rather like Paul we need to press forward in strength of faith relying on God’s grace, so we get to the fullness of life promised for those who follow God’s path.
So too Jesus. He did nothing other than to proceed in strength of faith. That did not mean He was without challenge. Imagine going back home and having everyone tell you, Get out of here! They took offense at Him.
The reaction of others back then or today was and is not important, but rather that we follow the example of Jesus Who always walked in strength of faith. We are called to be strong.
Following Jesus did not and will not mean that we do not face: Shut up; Ouch, it hurts; or Get out of here. What really matters is our decision to walk in strength of faith, relying on God’s grace, and if we do, we receive fullness of life eternal.