Ordinary Faithfulness

“Truly, his salvation is very near those who fear him.” (Psalm 85:9)

Those who think of this time between the Feast of the Epiphany and Lent as an “Epiphany Season” are likely to focus attention on the manifestations of the divine recorded in the readings of scripture on this Sunday. Gideon encounters “the angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament lesson. In the epistle, St. Paul recounts the resurrection appearances of the Lord Jesus. Then, in the gospel story of the miraculous catch of fish, Simon Peter’s response to his experience of this “epiphany” is described in terms of reverence. He falls to his knees and calls on Jesus as “Lord.”

Those of us who recognize these winter days between the seasons of the church year as “ordinary time” might find ourselves engaging the sacred texts, looking for that which would encourage ordinary faithfulness. The examples of Gideon, St. Paul, and St. Peter provide such encouragement. We may, as the psalmist wrote, “listen to what the Lord God is saying,” by hearing of their responses of faith and with them find that God’s “salvation is very near to those who fear him.” In the stories of each of these heroes of the faith, we may see that faithfulness is grounded in realistic humility and willing obedience.

The humility of each man is recorded in his own words. Gideon replied to the Lord’s words of calling and sending, “my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” St. Paul confessed that “because I persecuted the church of God” he was “the least of the apostles unfit to be called an apostle.” Simon Peter prayerfully addressed Jesus, saying “I am a sinful man.” These are not merely self-deprecating phrases offered by people who suffered low self-esteem. They are realistic statements indicative of true humility. None of these men approached God with any prideful sense of his own personal strength or competency. Thus they were enabled to submit honestly to God’s will for their lives.

In the spirit of humble reliance on God, all three willingly obeyed the One who called them into faith. Gideon became one of the great judges of the Old Testament. Though at the least, St. Paul “worked harder” than any of the other apostles, strengthened by “the grace of God which is with me.” St. Peter became not only a faithful follower and fisher of men and women, but also the great apostolic witness to the risen Lord. In humble obedience, all we who are called to faith in Christ may hope likewise to receive “that abundant life” for which we pray in the Collect of the Day.

Look it Up

Read Romans 12:1-3 and consider the apostolic teaching on humility and obedience found in these verses.

Think About It

In the lessons for this Sunday, both Gideon and Simon Peter encounter God in the midst of ordinary activities. Might we likewise perceive God’s presence in our ordinary routines?

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