Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Our Manner of Life

Reflections on the Readings
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 3, 2010 - Year C
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
By Dennis S. Hankins

Our Manner of Life

"Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." - St. Paul

The words of Habakkuk echo in my mind today. "For the vision awaits its time; if it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay."  In other words, God's time is not always our time — but God is always on time.  He does not waste any life devoted to him. All the Christian life requires is patience, faithfulness and endurance. 

Sometimes the Christian way of life is presented as the epitome of personal success.  Some churches use Madison Avenue advertising to depict Christianity as sleek and glamorous.  But the readings today tell a different story.  "Plod along," they say.  Keep the faith. Don't be tempted by false gods.  Fan the flame of faith. Stay true to what's been true for two thousand years.

Paul reminds Timothy of 'the pattern of sound words.'  These are the beliefs of the Church, anchored in faith and love.  And these gifts of Jesus are endless; we can always ask for more.  Like the disciples, we must always pray, "Increase our faith."  Jesus answers our prayer with a question — can you have faith the size of a mustard seed?

I think it was my 12th or 13th birthday.  I received a birthday card with a mustard seed packaged inside.  I marveled about that for years.  Reflecting on today's Gospel reading, I remember that birthday card.  How much more a follower of Christ could I be if I just had that much faith?

Asking for more faith is asking for a closer and deeper relationship with Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI calls this a 'living relationship.'  It is in Christ we find a manner of life that inspires us.  Alive in Christ we grow in grace.  If we are unresponsive to the stirrings of holy faith and love, we need to pray fervently, " Dear Jesus, increase my faith."    

God hasn't called us to a lifestyle; he's given us a manner of life, patterned on the one who is the way, the truth and the life.  No one who believes in Jesus will perish, for in Christ we live. In him we find our true self; confessing in all humility, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."

This is our manner of life.


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