Faithfulness and Patience…are the fertilizer of a rich life
The Book of Wisdom, written in Greek for Jewish Greek people just before the time of Jesus. the reading reveals a “vision” of the blessings that followed their faithfulness in persecution.
Jesus warns us to be alert, be ready, because we never know when He is coming. Most people think this means be ready to face Jesus when we die.
But I believe it’s much better to look at it as meaning: be ready for opportunities to meet Jesus in our daily lives. Success in life is what comes from positive relationships and hard work.
Positive relationships are built up through our frequent presence and a generous spirit: willing to give without expecting something in return, apart from the good company. The returns always come with time, and in my experience we receive more than we have given.
Our Hard Work means this:
1. A job is a gift and a blessing – be grateful.
2. Be honest in our efforts for the rewards we receive: advertise yourself for a better job.
3. Always give a little more than asked – employers will appreciate.
4. Have initiative: when the work is done, ask if more needs to be done.
5. If no employment, teach yourself a new skill (sitting at home breeds self-pity): study at home, or apprenticing yourself with a tradesperson for free.
Finally, even when we are busy, we should also keep one eye open to notice when people around us need a helping hand. One day it might be you hoping somebody notices.
I remember a story in USA where a motorist stopped to help a lady whose car had broken down in the rain. He didn’t know her but fixed her flat tyre. The next week, the lady tracked him down and gave him a gift of more than a $1,000. It turns out she was a movie star.
I don’t suggest we help people with hope we get a bonus. However, I’m convinced that the more we help others, the more good things happen in our lives.
Jesus says: be ready, not to be afraid of Jesus, but to be alert not to miss opportunities. When we miss opportunities, we then risk the opposite happening: we become sad, lonely, feeling sorry for ourselves and it becomes a habit that is hard to break.
As I said above, being PRESENT with family, friends and community, is really important. Often, our times of being present don’t seem very “magical” or productive.
But every now and then, something magical happens: partly because of the TRUST that comes from our previous times of presence.
People sometimes ask: Why does Mass have to last an hour? Why do we have to attend? It’s boring! But, somehow, the regularity of Mass participation/listening does positive things…
In Kenya, a young man, recently married, complained to me that his wife was always asking for money, and other things. So I gently encouraged him to see how his wife is trying to strengthen the family and his job is to work with her if he wants the fruits of happiness “tomorrow”.
Our young people, likewise, have a big challenge with sexual temptation.
Why should we listen to the Church teachings? Why listen to God’s morals? If it feels good, why not do it? If it’s natural, why can’t we do it?
There are two answers: (1) timing; and (2) using the gifts of nature for a higher purpose than selfish pleasure. I do understand that it’s not easy to wait, and it’s even more difficult when we feel unloved and lonely: those feelings push us to take shortcuts.
All I can say is this: trust in God & remember: nothing good/beautiful comes without struggle.
That’s why choosing our friends carefully will help us. Being part of the Church youth group will encourage us to follow the right path, and protect ourselves against bad “results”.
Unfortunately, many young people are not advised well, and not given strong boundaries, to protect them from bad experiences. So, they learn by making mistakes – some very serious: sexual diseases that make them sterile, addiction to drugs or bad behaviour. Others become fathers or mothers too early, and all their future dreams seem to fall apart.
Participation in and contribution to our family and community life is so important for a healthy life today and tomorrow: that is, learn the rules and follow them. And, as the Gospel tells us: Jesus himself will put on an apron and serve the faithful person.
At Mass we reflect on the life of Jesus Christ and we receive Him for strength. It helps us avoid becoming like the bad steward in the Gospel, who reflects the worldly ways of misusing authority and power to steal community money and oppress others.
Let’s be faithful… and allow God’s blessings to bring us joy through our service to others.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI