Mother Theresa once said that God does not want us to be successful; He wants us to be faithful. This is a difficult task. We find it much easier to measure our lives by observable – generally secular – standards. Did I get an “A” for my final grade? Is my income rising? Does our yard look better than the neighbors’? Even when it comes to things of a religious or spiritual nature we tend to think in terms of “success”. But the role of the prophet (like Ezekiel in today’s first reading or Jesus in the Gospel) can’t be measured in terms of success. Just how many people reformed their lives after hearing the prophet Ezekiel’s exhortation? How many refused to listen to Jesus? Was Jesus successful? He was not rich. He had few followers in the end. And His suffering and death at age 33 certainly is not what the world would call success. Being faithful is an entirely different thing. It is living and teaching the truth in season and out. It is – as St. Paul relates in today’s second reading – being content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints for the sake of Christ. That is the key. “Success”, for us, is being faithful for the sake of Christ. For Christ, we bear with difficulties and temptations. With His help we grow in the virtue of charity and patience. Do not be discouraged if you seem to experience little “success” in your life. God isn’t calling you to be successful. He wants you to be faithful.
We celebrate our nation’s Independence today, July 4. This is an opportune time for us to reflect upon the great gift which freedom is, and the obligation that it places upon us. As Christians we should remember that God made us with a mind to know and a will to choose. Freedom is an inalienable right. God gave it to us – made it part of our very nature. It is not granted to us by any state or human power. It is, rather, the obligation of the state to protect and defend human freedom. This is the purpose of law enforcement and defensive armies. Freedom is a gift from God which enables us to choose the good. As we celebrate our nation’s birth, pray that God will preserve us from tyranny and evil. Pray that He will preserve us in freedom: freedom to choose the good, freedom to live for God.
While I am away this weekend for a family reunion, I’m happy to welcome Fr. Nate Kuhn, Director of Vocations for the La Crosse Diocese, here at SS Peter & Paul.
May God bless you!