Summary: We must stay in the game, even when we are tired or frustrated by results unseen.
Thursday of 10th Week in Course
I can’t ignore the remarkable juxtaposition of the first reading and psalm with the weather events of the past weeks. The northern kingdom of Israel was the richer of the twin Hebrew nations, rich in agriculture, mining and trade. The kingdom of Judah was a backwater surrounded by foes. But Israel had abandoned the worship of the Lord in Jerusalem, and perhaps a majority of the landowners had gone back to sacrificing to Baal and Astarte and even Moloch–the killer of babies. So when Elijah prophesied to Ahab, the apostate king and husband of Jezebel, that there would be a severe drought because of the apostasy, he fled into hiding for the three years of the famine. Today we see him prophesying rain, and the rains came–a real torrent. The whole point is that the Lord, the true God, is the master of the weather, and Baal, the weather god, is impotent. All substitutes for the true God are imposters, and, in St. Paul’s words, demons. When God decides to restore a nation to life, His power cannot be denied, nor His mission frustrated.
The Holy Father reminds us of the reality of the Resurrection: ‘Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history. Values always tend to reappear under new guises, and human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power.
‘At the same time, new difficulties are constantly surfacing: experiences of failure and the human weaknesses which bring so much pain. We all know from experience that sometimes a task does not bring the satisfaction we seek, results are few and changes are slow, and we are tempted to grow weary. Yet lowering our arms momentarily out of weariness is not the same as lowering them for good, overcome by chronic discontent and by a listlessness that parches the soul. It also happens that our hearts can tire of the struggle because in the end we are caught up in ourselves, in a careerism which thirsts for recognition, applause, rewards and status. In this case we do not lower our arms, but we no longer grasp what we seek, the resurrection is not there. In cases like these, the Gospel, the most beautiful message that this world can offer, is buried under a pile of excuses.
‘Faith also means believing in God, believing that he truly loves us, that he is alive, that he is mysteriously capable of intervening, that he does not abandon us and that he brings good out of evil by his power and his infinite creativity. It means believing that he marches triumphantly in history with those who “are called and chosen and faithful” (Rev 17:14). Let us believe the Gospel when it tells us that the kingdom of God is already present in this world and is growing, here and there, and in different ways: like the small seed which grows into a great tree (cf. Mt 13:31-32), like the measure of leaven that makes the dough rise (cf. Mt 13:33) and like the good seed that grows amid the weeds (cf. Mt 13, 24-30) and can always pleasantly surprise us. The kingdom is here, it returns, it struggles to flourish anew. Christ’s resurrection everywhere calls forth seeds of that new world; even if they are cut back, they grow again, for the resurrection is already secretly woven into the fabric of this history, for Jesus did not rise in vain. May we never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!’
The Pope has encouraged us to stay in the game, even when we are tired or frustrated by results unseen. It reminds us of Blessed Mother Theresa’s challenge–we are not called to be successful, but to be faithful. After all, to the world Jesus was a failure, and yet He remains our only true hope.