Thursday, January 26, 2017

Persevering with the Help of Friends

By Colleen O’Sullivan

You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.   (Hebrews 10:36)

Commit to the Lord your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.  (Psalm 37:3-4)

Lord, as we follow in your footsteps, help us to be friends to our fellow pilgrims, encouraging and supporting one another along the way.

We all need encouragement in our faith at times.  The Jewish Christians addressed in the Letter to the Hebrews had experienced many trials and tribulations.  As a result of following Jesus’ way, many of them were shunned by their families.   The Jewish community shut them out.  On top of that, some of them experienced great financial losses.  Beaten down, I’m sure they must have wondered at times if it was all worth it.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds them that it is, in fact, worth it, that Jesus will return.  Being with the Lord for all eternity will more than make up for anything suffered in this life.  “You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised,” he writes.

The Christian life is far more a marathon than a sprint, although you’d never know it in some circles.  On Sunday mornings I am frequently up and ready for the day long before it’s time to leave for Mass.  Sometimes I channel surf.  I almost always come across one preacher or another promising wealth in this life if we just have enough faith.   As I read the Gospels, our Lord cares about us having what we need, but Jesus spends way more time talking about sharing what we have with the poor than extolling the virtues of amassing wealth.   The reward for faithfulness isn’t generally money or possessions or an easy life.  The promise of God in return for faithfulness is a place in God’s Kingdom.  We do people a disservice when we aren’t honest with them about the Christian journey.  It isn’t always easy.  It wasn’t easy for Jesus, being ridiculed and the subject of entrapment schemes every step of the way.  Being faithful to his Father led Jesus to the Cross before he ever came to the Resurrection.  Why should we expect anything different? 

Being conformed to the image of Christ is the work of a lifetime.  It isn’t always easy.  It does take endurance to persevere and do God’s will.  But when we think of the reward at the end, it’s all worth it to be with Christ.

In Cursillo, we talk about making a friend, being a friend and bringing a friend to Christ.  What kind of friends do we envision ourselves being?  Are we the kind of friends who are there for the long haul?  Whether we’re reading about the first century Jewish Christians or looking around today, it’s clear to me that being a follower of Jesus isn’t always easy, and every one of us could use friends along the way.  I always feel bad for people I meet who’ve gone on a Weekend and then never joined a Group Reunion.  They are missing out on some wonderful friendships!

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