The Faithful Man’s Way of Life Proves His Faith

Forgiveness is for the forgiven and the forgiver

The theme of being faithful in small things is often discussed in relation to personal responsibility, “the little duty of each moment” as St. Josemaria Escriva writes. This application of the principle is true and good. One’s capacity for responsibility does increase through faithfulness in small things and discussing the importance of constancy in small things is a good reminder. The Collect for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time invites one to meditate further on the spiritual significance, not just the natural significance, of doing small things faithfully.

The petition in the Collect says, “Oh God . . . grant that by keeping your precepts we may merit to attain eternal life”. Just like one’s natural capacity for responsibility increases through faithfulness to daily duties, one’s capacity for love of God increases through lovingly keeping His precepts. C.S. Lewis provides an allegorical view of souls moving through Purgatory into Heaven in his short novel The Great Divorce. The narrator says upon arriving in the Valley of the Shadow of Life (not yet fully in Heaven, or the “Real World”), “It was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison” (Lewis, 21). Indeed, there is a weight to the beatific vision that an ill-prepared soul cannot bear — he would cease to exist.

One’s faithfulness to the duties of life builds natural virtue, yes, but that natural virtue is not the final end. The soul’s final end is union with the Holy Trinity in eternal life. The Collect’s petition reminds the Faithful that God has founded the commands of his “sacred Law upon love of [Him] and of our neighbor”. By infusing love of God into the duties of life, a man not only matures in human virtue but in divine likeness as well. In so doing, he earns his “wage” as in the parable of the vineyard owner from this week’s Gospel. Man can never say “I am worthy of my wage” before his Heavenly Father, but he can, through faithfulness to the precepts of God — the demands of the “gospel of Christ”, as St. Paul writes — receive his “wage” from his generous and merciful Father. Lewis, C. S. The Great Divorce: A Dream. Harper One, HarperCollins, 2007.

From The Rule of St. Basil:

That even if a man seem to confess the Lord and hear His words, but does not obey His commands, he is condemned, even though, by some divine concession, he be vouchsafed an endowment of spiritual gifts.

Catechism 2472: The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.

All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.

 

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