Faith, focus and fidelity
The story is told about a little girl who whispered to her Dad at the end of a wedding: “I don’t get it, Dad. She walked into the church with a man, and she walked out of the church with another man. What happened?”
In today’s Gospel (Mk. 6, 7-13), Jesus summoned the 12 disciples and gave them marching orders for their journey. He made sure they remained focused on their mission, and faithful to their Master. For us, too, a lot of things can happen as we journey on. Let us not lose our focus and our fidelity.
Jesus gave to the disciples their mission, their marching orders. But he also gave them their survival kit, so to speak. The first thing he stressed is that they go two by two, underlining the importance of teamwork and community. To avoid disaster, dangers and failures, we must remain united with Him, and with one another. No superstar in His team. Only He is the superstar.
Jesus assures us that we have been given the power to preach, to heal, even to exorcise. This God-given power is something we should proclaim in season and out of season. It is not ours to keep, but to share. We must learn to rely more on God’s power, and not on our own talents, charisms, resources, contacts. And we should be humbly grateful for having been given the chance to serve and glorify God.
Jesus urges us to travel light, and to be free of attachments to worldly pleasures and a selfish agenda. Otherwise, our journey will be burdensome, if not a total failure. To survive, we must learn to let go, and let God. We must trust in God, and worry less about provisions, programs, projects, positions and public opinion. It’s all about what the Master says, and not what the world and the crowd out there say.
Our Master also instructs us to lie low and to be humble. “Whenever you go to a house, stay there until you leave.” There is a latent message here of not focusing on the perks that come along with discipleship. We must learn to fade away, take the road less traveled, and to be hidden.
We have been given a clear message—to preach repentance. The bottom line is that we do not preach about ourselves, or our own philosophies and ideologies. We are to preach that God is a God of love who wants us to go back to His heart, and to go to heaven when we finally breathe our last.
Speaking of journey, I am now on the road of sickness and recovery (not infirmity!). It’s that time in my life when I face the “Big C” (cancer of the lungs), but with me is the “Biggest C” (Christ, the greatest Healer). It is a part of my journey where focus and fidelity will win the day.
The three F’s—faith, family, friends—are the greatest treasures and provisions for our journey, especially on the rough, bumpy and dark stretches along the way. Faith gives us strength and meaning, family gives us unconditional support, and friends give us courage and inspiration.
The outpouring of prayers from so many people is in itself the miracle—that people prayed more, and prayed better (praying not just for themselves). My sickness has gone public. Let it be so for the glory of God, and that is what my sickness gone public is all about. May it be for the edification of people, and for me, a purification and vicarious offering. Yes, our sufferings can become our offering—a joyful offering.
The reality of cancer has opened up the reality of death. We all will die. But, instead of being afraid, let us live fully and love truly until we die. We live with cancer. We do not die of cancer.
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, help us to have faith, stay focused, and hold on to fidelity as we journey on. Amen.
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