“My feet kept to the level path because from earliest youth I was familiar with” Wisdom. —Sirach 51:15
Conversion stories are exciting. We weep for joy as the good thief on the cross finds salvation in his last desperate hour (Lk 23:42-43). We marvel at the power of God as He overpowers the worst sinner, the persecutor Saul (1 Tm 1:15), who then incredibly becomes the great apostle and preacher Paul (Acts 9:3ff). Today we are greatly encouraged by the wave of staunch Protestants who have incredibly converted to Catholicism and now powerfully defend the Faith.
A life of faithfulness is not as popular a story. People rarely fill an auditorium to hear about the priest or sister who accepted their vocation as a child and then never wavered from living out their call in holiness and fruitfulness. Not many flock to seek wisdom from the couple who never used artificial contraception, had a large family, and raised children who have all stayed joyfully faithful to the Church.
The popularity of conversions is a very good thing. We constantly need to keep in mind the power of God. Yet when we encounter people who have never wavered in faithfulness and who have faithfully borne fruit over the years, we should seek them out to the point of wearing away their doorstep! (Sir 6:36) We are to frequent their company and stay close to them (Sir 6:35). Faithfulness is caught more than taught. Seek faithfulness by seeking the faithful.
Prayer: Father, bring people into my life who will lead me to greater faithfulness.
Promise: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.” —Ps 19:8
Praise: Alice has built her life around Jesus and has received Him daily in the Eucharist for forty years.
A sermon of
St Zeno of Verona
[ 300 – 371 A.D.]
My beloved brethren, the story of Job prefigures that of Christ. Thus we understand it, and we can see the truth of this by detailed comparison.
Job was called a righteous man by God; and God is righteousness itself, the fountain of righteousness from which the blessed drink. Of him it was said: The sun of righteousness shall rise for you.
Job was called truthful; and the Lord is truly Truth itself, for as he says in the Gospel: I am the way and the truth.
Job was rich; and what could be richer than the Lord? For all the rich are his slaves, his is the whole world and all that exists, as David said in the Psalms: The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and all who live in it.
The devil tempted Job three times; and three times, according to the Gospel, he tried to tempt the Lord.
Everything that Job had, he lost; and for love of us the Lord forgot all his heavenly blessings and made himself poor, that we might be rich.
The devil, raging, destroyed Job’s sons; and the Lord’s sons, the prophets, were killed by the people of the Pharisees in their madness.
Job was disfigured with boils; and the Lord, taking on human flesh, was fouled with the sins of all mankind.
Job’s own wife urged him to sin; and the synagogue, the bride of God, tried to compel the Lord to follow the corrupt behaviour of the elders.
Job’s friends, it is said, insulted him; and the Lord was insulted by his own priests, his own worshippers.
Job sits on a dunghill full of worms; and the Lord lived in a real dunghill, that is, this world, surrounded by men seething with every vice and every crime: true worms.
Job received back his health and his riches; and the Lord, rising, did not only regain health but granted immortality to those who believed in him and took back dominion over the whole of nature. For as he himself bears witness: All things have been given to me by my Father.
Job begot new sons to replace the ones who had died; the Lord, to replace the prophets, begot his holy sons, the Apostles.
Job went to his rest in blessedness and peace; but the Lord remains blessed in all eternity: before time, and from the beginning of time, and to the end of all ages.
“Their wealth remains in their families, their heritage with their descendants.” —Sirach 44:11
Many people work hard during their adult lives, with the goal of enjoying a relaxing, well-deserved retirement. They feel it’s the time to enjoy one’s grandchildren, and catch up on travel, hobbies, and leisure that were missed out on during many years of sacrifice.
However, the “golden years” are not really the time to let up; instead, these years are the time to “seal in” the heritage that has been sown. All too often, it takes only one generation for a society to lose its collective faith. The decades of solid groundwork that parents have laid may be lost in the relaxation of the golden years of retirement. Jesus may be issuing a call to grandparents when He says: “Listen to what I say: Open your eyes and see! The fields are shining for harvest!” (Jn 4:35)
Kings Hezekiah and Solomon both had tremendous starts in reforming their nation and turning their people to the Lord (2 Kgs 18:2ff; 1 Kgs 3:6ff). Yet their record is tarnished because they slacked off in later years. The end result of their reigns was that the nation was in worse shape when they died than it was before they started (2 Kgs 20:21ff; 1 Kgs 11:43ff).
Jesus warned us about “laying the foundation and then not being able to complete the work” (Lk 14:29). Then our legacy is merely a half-built tower, an extended family which didn’t have the faith that endured. Let us build a heritage that will endure for the glory of God.
Prayer: Father, may I finish “the work You gave me to do” (Jn 17:4).
Promise: “I give you My word, if you are ready to believe that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer, it shall be done for you.” —Mk 11:24
Praise: Tom, a physician, prays with his patients and blesses them with holy water during their visits to his office.