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Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 2:23-3:9 & Lk. 17:7-10

People today say, 'Being faithful to God can be so very hard - is it really worth the effort?' But believers have been struggling with this issue for thousands of years. They included the first readers of the Book of Wisdom, who were Jews living in Egypt in the first century before Christ. The author of the Book of Wisdom encouraged his readers to believe that faithfulness is always rewarded. Even in trials, disasters and death, the “just are in the hand of God” and “will abide with Him in love” (Wisdom 3:1,9).

It is easy to be faithful when things are going our way. But how do we bear up under hardship? How do we react when, despite our best efforts, the Devil seems to win all the battles? Realising that things are bigger than we can handle, we must pray like never before. We can begin to recognise challenges and hardships as opportunities to take God at His word. If we see our trails as “being disciplined a little” on our way to the “great good” of eternal life “(Wis. 3:5) we can make good and right choices.

Consider the choices that St Paul and many generous Christians have made over the centuries. He gave up everything he once held dear in order to follow Christ, even when his 'yes' led to rejection, scourgings, shipwrecks, imprisonments and a lot else!

Choices like these are not just for the heroes of faith like him. Many Christians embrace the folly of the Cross in more ordinary ways. Think about those who have lost their jobs but still put money in the poor box trusting in the Father’s providence. Or what about someone who has been deeply hurt by a close friend and yet responds with prayers and forgiveness instead of hatred and bitterness? The examples are numerous and each one of them would seem pure foolishness. Why do people act in this way? It is because they believe in the promises of Christ. We too face similar choices like this. Can we believe in the resurrection enough to choose God’s logic of love over the logic of the world?

So often, when we serve others, we would like and expect some appreciation. A thank you note or at least a pat on the back is not asking much! However, Jesus warned His disciples not to expect any special reward for their endeavours, because the work involved in being a follower of Christ is part and parcel of his or her vocation. It is the cost of discipleship, the rewards of which we may not see until the next life.

How, then, do we continue to serve in seemingly thankless situations? If we realise just how amazing and awesome God is, and what a privilege it is to work for Him, we would never grumble nor complain, but serve Him with love. It is then that we do not look for any praise or recognition from Him. We know that we have not deserved the mercy He has shown us, and so our service becomes not a chore, but a privilege. God has called us to build His kingdom and we are honoured to accept the invitation of so great a King. Even the smallest acts we perform for one another, if done in this spirit, are pleasing to the Father.

This was the spirit of many of the saints. The great St Francis truly worked himself to the bone for Jesus, even admitting he was cruel to his body. Towards the end of his life he apologised - he called his body Brother Ass - to forgive him for the harsh treatment he had given it. Yet after a life in the service of Jesus, His Master, he said “My brothers, let us begin to serve God for up to now we have done nothing.” He really understood those words of Jesus, “When you have done all you have been told to do say, ‘We are merely servants; we have done no more than our duty.’”

Heavenly Father, we trust and surrender our every need into Your loving hands. Pour Your wisdom into our lives and help us to make hard choices for Your sake. Holy Spirit just as You energised St Francis, energise us. Make us realise that there is so much work to be done, in our families and communities to become dedicated servants.

Jesus, You are the ultimate servant. You gave up Your life to rescue us from sin! May we spend our lives like You serving others without counting the cost, without seeking any reward other than the hope of seeing Your face!

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