Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
The devil is smart and knows how to dress up, and does not come to people in an ugly form. He is always presentable and attractive. And many people like him. When the devil seduced Eve (and Adam) to eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, He presented himself as knowledgeable, and showed the fruit as exciting and desirable. He “said to the woman: You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad” (Gen 3:4-5). Yes, they gained insight into the world, and realized that they were naked. They realized how vulnerable they were to temptation and to the seductions of the world. They tried to cover themselves with the leaves of shame and embarrassment, but their presumption and disobedience only made them more exposed to the deceptions of the world.
Many think that honesty and trustworthiness refer to small things only, like, petty theft, white lies, deficiency in work; but any act of cheating is always an act against the fidelity of God, and pays off with degradation of self-esteem and dishonorable reputation. So, it is said, when the cat is away the mouse can play. How demeaning to be compared to a mouse! Dishonesty and irresponsibility though, invade all situations of life: work, sports, relationships, family, school, government, church, life in the streets, etc. Yes, many achieve their economic, social and family goals by dishonesty.
In situations like these, we call on God for the grace that we may live a life of honesty and trustworthiness. Though seemingly these words are losing their value in worldly settings, with God we can make a difference. On August 6, 2010, in his message for the World Youth Day, Pope Benedict VI called on everyone, especially the young to be God’s witnesses. He wrote: “In our age of globalization, be witnesses of Christian hope all over the world. How many people long to receive this hope! Standing before the tomb of his friend Lazarus, who had died four days earlier, as he was about to call the dead man back to life, Jesus said to Lazarus’ sister Martha: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God” (cf. Jn 11:40). In the same way, if you believe, and if you are able to live out your faith and bear witness to it every day, you will become a means of helping other young people like yourselves to find the meaning and joy of life, which is born of an encounter with Christ!” (www.zenit.org, Sept 3, 2010).
Jesus also introduces the children of light: God’s children, who are honest in word and deed and trustworthy even in little things. They trust and grow in the wisdom of the Lord. They shine in their studies and work, and become exemplary law abiding citizens and model disciples of the Lord. In their little ways, they are grateful for what they have, live on what they earn, and are happy for what they are and what they can do, for they trust that God does not abandon those who honestly hope in Him. They are the glory of God, for “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God” (Mt 5:3); “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8). Jeremiah also proclaimed: Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit (Jer 17:7-8). Yes, for if people plant honesty and trustworthiness, they will reap the trust of men and the glory of God.
In the Sacrament of Confirmation we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and holy fear of the Lord. These gifts help us to live a life of honesty in our relationships and trustworthiness in our responsibilities. Jesus gives us the Eucharist as our food and strength for life. With Mary our Mother, who remained pure and obedient to God, we renew our commitment to Him, and shall proclaim to the world that there is no wisdom and power other than the Lord’s.