Much of priestly ministry is encouraging others (and yourself) to be faithful in the midst of difficult circumstances. Mother Theresa said that the Christian is not called to be successful, the Christian is called to be faithful. We cannot confuse our desires for personal success and comfort for the desire to be faithful. Sometimes being faithful leads to personal discomfort, and a feeling of being an outsider. However, when we are faithful to Christ, we are winners in the way that matters, the eternal way.
In these days, it is very tempting to give in to cultural pressures. We might be tempted to believe that our Christian faith should be an easy ride; a quest to find a comfort zone to stay in. Christian life is no such thing. It is an act of faith and love each day. Our faith is renewed each day. We must renew faith each day for it to have vitality.
And so, we must never grow discouraged or weary. We must always be ready to do what it takes to be faithful to Christ, no matter what the cost.
These are difficult days for many. People’s retirement nest-eggs have vanished overnight in the volitile stock market. Jobs are hard to come by. Many who worked in manufacturing have seen their jobs go away, and they will not return. In the face of decreased revenues and rising costs almost all institutions are being asked to do more with less. Our institutions are not able to provide the types of services to which we have grown accustomed. If you watch TV or listen to the radio for even five minutes, you realize how many occasions to sin – how much waste – how much moral degradation by which we are threatened. Indeed, these are difficult times.
At these times, we can be reminded that we were never promised a lasting home here in this world. We were never told by Christ that we would have it easy, or that Christian life would come free of Crosses. This is what it was going to be all along. Life is tough, and we encounter great suffering and heartaches. However, we are placed in these situations to grow in faith and love. Be encouraged by this fact! Do not think that things have gone wrong because things are hard. It is in the hard times that we find ourselves in a position to grow. We find ourselves in a position to trust in God – the only One who can conquer sin, death, difficulty. God is above and beyond all things, and He is waiting for us to place our trust in Him!
Maybe when people realize that the world is not enough, will we begin to see an increase in vocations. The religious, the monk, the nun, the priest are all signs of contradiction. Yet, they are signs of hope, which contradicts the despair and lonliness of the world. God is with us, and it is through faith in that eternal love that we conquer all adversity.
God doesn’t call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful. God will bring the good work that He has begun in us to fulfillment. The question is, will we claim the prize of faith for ourselves, and reject the easy solutions of the everyday world? To claim the prize of faith is to have the assurance that leads to true freedom, today and into eternal life. It is this faith for which the priest and the consecrated religious stands. May we pray that more people choose to answer to call to be a sign of faith and hope in a world that is in great need of it.