The treasure of persistent faith

A PRIEST flew thousands of miles to spend a month with the community of Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. He was in a stage of discernment for God’s further purpose in his priestly life. On the first morning that he met Mother Teresa, the pious nun asked him, “What do you want me to pray for? “ The priest answered, “Pray that I have clarity.”

She said no. That was that.

When the priest asked why, she told him that clarity was the last thing he was clinging to and had to let go of.

The priest commented, “But Mother,  you  had always seemed to have the clarity I longed for.”

Mother Teresa laughed: “I have never had clarity; what I’ve always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust.”

Mother Teresa, now a canonized saint, is right. Many times what we really need is the grace to trust because there are a lot of things that we are unsure of in this life, and that we can never see clearly. We need faith because as St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Indeed, faith is the inexhaustible treasure we need to carry in our life journeys. Many of us possess a lot of treasures, such as money, properties, knowledge and skills. These are good, but they do not last. What God offers us is the infinite treasure of faith and life in His son, Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel this Sunday, we hear the parable of a widow who persisted in petitioning the judge  to change his mind so that he would act and render a just decision. She kept calling out to him day and night. The judge finally listened to her plea. But what is inspiring about this parable is not just the perseverance of the widow but also her tremendous faith.

For us Christians, faith comes from the grace of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. This is reason that St. Paul wrote in the Second Letter to Timothy (3:14-4:2):  “Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the Sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.”

St. Paul also reminds us to be “persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient.”

This implies perseverance and a strong faith in God despite our struggles, difficulties, confusions, and persecutions.  Our modern-day martyrs — our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East who were killed violently because of their faith — demonstrated this heroic faith. They are our inspiration.

Our Psalm prayers this Sunday express this treasure of persistent and enduring faith:

“The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade; he is beside you at your right hand. The sun shall not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will guard you from all evil; he will guard your life.The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever.” (Psalm 121)

May we take the advice of St. Teresa of Calcutta to pray for trust in God on all the days of our lives!

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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1999-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of ImmAaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.

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