17 Pentecost, Year C: Hold On, Press On

SUNDAY’S READINGS | October 2, 2022

Lam. 1:1-6 or Hab. 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Lam. 3:19-26 or Ps. 137 2
Tim. 1:1-14
Luke 17:5-10

There are moments and even seasons in life when the presence of the Lord seems so tangibly real, as if providential love emanates from nature, circumstances, and the people in our lives. Everything seems to have sacramental significance, as truly it does, for nothing can exist without a continual outpouring of divine will and love. In gratitude, we pour out our praise. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name” (Ps. 100:1-3). What a joy it is to feel and know that “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Ps. 19:1; KJV).

Though a gift, these moments and seasons pass away, and so cannot establish a foundation for one’s faith. Faith is “plowing or tending the sheep in the field” (Luke 17:7). Faith is the humble confession, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10, RSV). Faith is worked out in what poet John Keble called “the trivial round, the common task.” It is precisely in the joys and demands and sufferings of daily life that we find “room to deny ourselves” (Keble). Thus, taking up our cross in union with Christ, we do our duty, and we “hold to the standard of sound teaching” (2 Tim. 1:13).

Writing to Timothy, Paul advises him to “rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim. 1:6). Moreover, says Paul, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7). Finally, Paul invites Timothy to “join with me in suffering for the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:8). A gospel of all sunshine, smiles, and prosperity is not the gospel. Rather, infused with the love and grace of God, we press on, moment by moment, day by day.

While there will still be moments of exhilaration and peace, there will be moments too of utter exhaustion and anguish. Again and again, we rekindle our faith by asking God to “pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgive us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and give us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask” (Collect). Faith is faithfulness in one’s daily life and work. It is also watchfulness and hope. In the world, we see wrongdoing, trouble, destruction, violence, strife, and contention. It seems that “justice never prevails” (Hab. 1:4). What we see in the world, we see in ourselves. Pressing on in the upward call of God in Christ, we look out upon the horizon of a divine promise.

In the words of the prophet Habakkuk, “I will stand at my watch-post, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that the runner can read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay” (Hab. 2:1-3).

God will prevail. God will be all in all. In the middle period of our mortal lives, however, we “trust in God” and “wait patiently for him” (Ps. 37:5, 7).

Look It Up: Psalm 121:1-2

Think About It: My help comes from the Lord.


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