“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7
Easy to find solace in today’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus addresses a great crowd with words we call the eight Beatitudes, virtues sure to transform and bless us on our journey home to God. Harder to understand is the cost of virtue that the Beatitudes imply.
The fourth and climactic pair of blessings provides a clue. Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.”
Frightening? Yes, definitely. Jesus is saying there is a cost to discipleship and we must be prepared for rejection, even suffering. But the cost will insure us salvation and the gift of eternal life. Here’s a modern-day story that makes my point…
While serving in Kenya, I came to know a highly successful Catholic couple that was having difficulty conceiving a child. This was a looming tragedy because in Africa many communities believe that the primary purpose of marriage is children. For them, a relationship without children is not a marriage. Eventually, the husband’s family began to pressure the young man to either divorce his wife or take a second wife.
Despite the pain this caused, the couple refused. They were committed to the indissolubility and exclusivity of their marriage. After praying for guidance, they made the decision to adopt two babies who had been abandoned at the gate of a Catholic children’s home. The husband’s family opposed the adoption. But no amount of pressure worked. The couple stayed true to their marriage covenant and began raising the children they longed for. Their cost of discipleship was great—but so was their reward.
Freind, staying true to our faith is a journey. We understand the challenges, but we have the strength of God’s grace, we have each other, and we have the promise that one day we will be in Christ’s presence for all time. May that be all you need in this world to celebrate the promise of eternal life in the next.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Lance Nadeau, M.M.
Prayer for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Give me, O God, strength to do Your will,
courage to say yes to You, perseverance to stay the course,
and patience with myself and others when I face
disappointments, setbacks and failure.
I believe You remain with me, Lord,
no less in my weakness than in my strength
and You give me daily grace to do Your will
and follow Your way in the world.
May I have the humble desire to welcome
all You send me to help me follow You.
Grant that I might accept Your will
even when it differs from my own
and never let despair overshadow
my faith in You, who daily call me
to pick up my cross and follow.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.