Homily for July 8, Friday of the XIV week in Ordinary Time, year I
“Trust in the Lord, and do good.” This phrase from today’s psalm sums up the message shared by all the readings today. In the first reading, God encourages Jacob to go to Egypt without fear, promising that Jacob and his family will be provided for and will eventually return to their homeland. The psalm assures us that the Lord watches over the lives of HIs faithful ones, and in the Gospel, Jesus tells the apostles to go out and preach the Gospel, to be faithful to Him and not to worry, because “whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.”
On one hand, this should be very encouraging to us. We have the certainty that God is faithful to His promises, and His love is everlasting and unchanging. As long as we do our best to be faithful to Him and trust in Him, He will accompany us, strengthen us, and lead us to happiness with Him.
This is not to be confused with the “gospel of prosperity” that is popular especially among some Evangelical Protestants. Some of their preachers promise that, if we are generous with God, then God will give us material prosperity. In other words, they teach that if you are a good Christian, you will be wealthy and successful.
However, this is contrary to what Gospel teaches. Jesus promises that faithful Christians will be persecuted, and tells us to take up our cross each day. What He offers us is eternal salvation, not temporal success. Suffering is part of the deal; we show our love and our trust by our fidelity in the midst of difficulty. If everyone is nice to us, and we have everything we want, and we have no difficulties or obstacles in our lives, then there is not so much merit in being faithful to God; we already have our reward.
Rather, as Jesus says, we should expect our reward not in this life, but in the next. Material prosperity and health is not a sign of holiness, and indigence and sickness is not a sign of God’s disfavor; there are saints and sinners among both the prosperous and the indigent. God’s mysterious plan encompasses all things, and He ensures that the circumstances of our lives work for our salvation as long was we do our best to be faithful to Him in the blessings and trials of each day.