The Fruit Of Faithfulness
Thirty-Second Week of Year II Saturday November 12, 2016
(The 3rd letter of John. Today only.)
The Responsorial Psalm promises the fullness of joy to those whose respect for God keeps them faithful to him: “Happy are those who fear the Lord” (Psalm 112).
3John 1:5-8: John begins his letter saying he is “overjoyed” because of the recipient’s “faithfulness to the truth.” This is a big issue for John, as we saw in yesterday’s reading. And here again he joins “truth” to action: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
Then he gets specific: “Beloved, you demonstrate fidelity by all you do for the brothers, even though they are strangers.” Literally, he says “you do faithfulness” (piston, the neuter of pistos, “faithful”). This is the word used to describe a faithful manager or steward (see Matthew 24:45 and Luke 12:42; 16:10).
To “keep the faith” — “abide in the truth” handed down to us — is to honor God with the reverence he deserves. This is beneficial to us: “Happy are those who fear the Lord.” But it is also a matter of our personal honor. To preserve and manage responsibly the gift entrusted to us is to be “faithful stewards” of the “manifold grace of God.”
In Luke 18: 1-8 Jesus shows understanding and sympathy for those of us who just don’t see God acting in our lives. He says even a corrupt judge will do justice eventually for someone who petitions long enough. And so will God — if we have the faith to stay active in the Church, even when it seems sterile to do so, and to keep asking.
Perseverance pays off.
Then Jesus gives us a little insight into his side of the love-hate relationship between us and God. (Is it too strong to call it that? Say the conflict between us and a God beyond our comprehension). “When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?”
This is a plea for fidelity. Jesus has entrusted his truth to us, with the “manifold grace” of divine faith, hope and love: the gift of sharing in what God himself sees, intends and appreciates. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly.” But if we persevere in trusting faith, someday “we will see face to face” (1Corinthians 13:12). Jesus begs us to persevere in the light we have, as faithful stewards of the truth, until it becomes clear vision in heaven.
“Happy are those who fear the Lord.”