11th Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Paul assures the Corinthians, “We are always courageous. . .for we walk by faith, not by sight.” I wonder if this is true. Are you always courageous? I'm not. I like to think that I am, but I know better. I like to think that if push comes to shove and I am forced to defend the faith with my life I'd do so. I'd like to think that there's no way I would denounce the faith to save my skin, or allow myself to be compromised in such a way that Christ would be dishonored. I'd like to think that. And I hope you think that too. But we can't know how brave we would be if and when the time comes to be tested. Why then does Paul seem so sure that we are always courageous? To walk by faith and not by sight is an act of courage; that is, to navigate this world by trusting in God's loving care for is precisely how our hearts are strengthen for judgment. We are always courageous b/c it is Christ who reigns in the center of our being, our heart. Whatever decisions we make, whatever words we speak, whatever deeds we do, we do it all from the throne that Christ himself occupies – the heart. It is the Christ-ruled heart that sows those tiny mustard seeds to plant the Kingdom of God.
Notice that Jesus picks the smallest seed to teach us about the Kingdom. He could've chosen figs or olives or grapes. He's used grains of wheat before in his parables, so that's an option too. But he chooses mustard seeds. Tiny, rock-hard seeds that produce huge, hearty trees. Trees that can survive in arid soil under a blazing sun. The Kingdom of God is planted, nurtured, and brought to harvest by the rock-hard faith of courageous men and women – men and women tested by temptation and trial and found righteous by judgment. To be among them, we need only allow Christ to rule our hearts b/c only Christ can give us the strength necessary to both survive and thrive in this arid world. Every saint and martyr of the Church started with a mere mustard seed of faith, just a drop of trust in God's loving care. Now they reign with Christ in the Kingdom, perfected and everlasting. That's our goal as well – eternal life with the Father. And it's ours by inheritance if we remain in the family that has adopted us. How do we remain? We persevere in courage. We trust with everything we have and are. We never compromise the truth of the faith. And we love sacrificially, giving it all for the glory of God.
Paul reminds us how it all ends, “. . .we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive [payment], according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.” When in doubt about whether or not you are helping to build the Kingdom, ask yourself: “Does Christ rule my heart?” Ask yourself: “Am I compromising the faith, or am I standing firm on the truth?” “Am I giving in to cynicism, or am I living in hope?” “Have I given everything I have and everything I am to Christ for him to govern?” You are always courageous, and you will always be courageous if you work for the Kingdom and Christ the King sits on the throne of your heart.
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