Oct. 3, 2010 — Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
After all, when we’ve finished a hard day at work, the last thought that’s likely to be in our minds is, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do,” with the implication that we shouldn’t expect any reward. We’re not likely to feel that way toward our bosses.
But as humans, creatures of God, our relationship to God makes obedience to him a duty, rather than an occasion deserving a reward. The amazing thing is that we are more than God’s creatures, we are his children by adoption and grace. And that can change our whole attitude.
You know, if it weren’t for sin, we would delight in serving God in every way we could, all the time, with all our abilities. The love he showers on us would be met with corresponding love on our part to the limits possible to a creature created in his image. One of the results of the estrangement between God and man caused by sin is that following God’s commandments frequently becomes a grudging duty on our part, which we feel as a burden.
But the loving relationship which the Father offers us in Christ makes serving God a joy in this life, as well as promising the reward of eternal happiness in heaven. That’s why we want to spend time in prayer and worship. That’s why we want to use our talents in service to God and his Church. That’s why we want to offer our treasure for the spread of his Kingdom.
And, yes, we do feel fatigue. We do have moments when we feel resentment at the tasks we see ahead of us. The effects of original sin remain with us even after Baptism. Nevertheless, the very challenge we experience in following the Gospel can develop into a consolation.
How is this possible? As St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy in the second reading, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” It takes courage to stand up to the crowd who follows the ways of the world, no matter how selfish. It takes courage to reject a dishonest business practice pushed by one’s supervisor. It takes courage to refuse to join a group of associates in tearing someone’s reputation to shreds.
But God did not give us a spirit of cowardice! Instead, he gave us a spirit of power – strength and courage to do the right we know we should. He gave us a spirit of love – to be instruments of his grace to all the people he loves (which is everyone). He gave us a spirit of self-control – to use our God-given abilities and gifts for service, rather than for self-satisfaction.
Yes, you will have “your share of hardship for the gospel,” but you can bear it “with the strength that comes from God.” And the reward? As God said to the prophet Habakkuk, the vision of God’s perfect will “still has its time,” so “if it delays, wait for it.” And each of us who waits in humble obedience to God will find that “the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” What a glorious promise!