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(Part 53)


October 29, 2013

Today’s readings:
Romans 8:18-25
Psalm 126:1-6
Luke 13:18-21

Faith and hope go together. Both have to do with salvation. By faith we are saved, and “in hope we were saved.” (Rom 8:24a). Both have to do with things unseen, and what is of the future. Faith is evidence of things not seen; “Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees?” (Rom 8:24b). Faith, according to Hebrews, is the realization of what is hoped for.

Our faith in Christ leads us to share Christ, to proclaim the good news of salvation in him, to help bring people from out of captivity to the evil one and into the kingdom of God. In turn, it is our hope in Christ that enable us to look to being “set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rom 8:21).

This is why we have been raised as an evangelistic and missionary community. This is our call, our charism, our destiny. This is our great privilege, to participate in divine work. “For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God” (Rom 8:19). All creation, especially humankind, looks to being restored to God. In the meantime, we are under slavery to sin and Satan. But in Christ there is hope, and that is our faith. “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” (Rom 8:22-23). We have been baptized in the Spirit. Now it is the Spirit within us who prods us to evangelize. This is all about the work of salvation.

Given that it is the most important work in the Kingdom, we are called to give of ourselves generously and wholeheartedly to the mission. We endure even as we can expect to suffer. No matter how difficult the work is, with its oppressions and persecution, we persevere, because we look to what is to come. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.” (Rom 8:25). Compared to heaven that is to come, we can endure the hell that is part of life on earth. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” (Rom 8:18). Indeed, suffering for the cause of Christ is its own reward.

As the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few, if we present ourselves to the Master as workers for the harvest, then whatever work we contribute will result in great blessing, to us and to those we reach. The hardships we endure will be well worth it. “Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.” (Ps 126:5). And why not. We would have participated in the very work of God. We would have helped bring people to salvation. We sow, and we harvest as the Lord provides. “Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.” (Ps 126:6).

Imagine what that work truly is. The little we contribute results in great blessings. The mustard seed that is planted will grow into a large bush and the birds of the sky will dwell in its branches (Lk 13:19). The little yeast will leaven the whole batch of dough (Lk 13:21). Our small effort will be multiplied a hundredfold. Small beginnings, just like the start of the Church at Pentecost, will result in explosive expansion of the Kingdom. Small breakthroughs will enlarge the reign of God on earth.

This is God’s work and nothing is impossible. With faith we can do wonders. With faith and hope we dream of what can be. “When the Lord restored the captives of Zion, we thought we were dreaming.” Ps 126:1). But the dream will turn into reality, because this is God’s plan. It is His intent. As we see the fruit of our worldwide work, we can truly rejoice. The pain will turn into gain. “Then our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy.” (Ps 126:2a).

As we do rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization, the nations of the world will know that Jesus is Savior and Lord. In him is salvation, abundant life, freedom, entry into heaven. “Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord had done great things for them.’” (Ps 126:2b).

But now, until we realize that great harvest, with faith and hope, we simply recognize how we have already been blessed. “The Lord has done great things for us; oh, how happy we were!” (Ps 126:3). We must go forth with great gratitude and joy in our hearts, and persevere in our work of evangelization. Let us apply ourselves to the work at hand, and let our constant prayer be: “Restore our captives, Lord, like the dry stream beds of the Negeb.” (Ps 126:4).

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