An Eye On The PrizeFr. Barnabas Powell
We live in a cynical world, and the dangers of cynicism lie in the deadening effect of cynicism on hope and joy. There is nothing more hopeless and sad than a cynic who simply can’t allow himself to believe in something better.
The death of faith always comes after the loss of the vision of the ultimate goal of a life of faith. When someone abandons the promise of the end of all this hard work of faith, then all the hard work becomes either silly or useless. After all, things are hopeless, right?
Wrong! Things are only hopeless when I choose to abandon hope. Things are only hopeless when I choose to dismiss the promise of the One I say I trust!
But, how do we avoid the easy cynicism of our immediately gratifying society? How do we fight against the short-sighted and instant answers world where if I can’t see immediate results, I give up?
Today’s Gospel Lesson gives us insights into escaping the dead-end world of the cynic and the hopeless life of abandoned faith.
Look at Matthew 10:16-22. Here the Lord warns His disciples that reaching the finish line of the faith isn’t going to be obstacle free and without difficulty. In fact the Lord promises those who follow Him some pretty discouraging challenges!
He says “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
That’s a pretty daunting list of challenges the Lord’s disciples are facing. Promises of arrest and even family betrayal can be a strong case for cynicism and a “what’s the use” mentality. But notice the Lord teaches His disciples to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). The key to surviving temptations of hopelessness and cynicism is to be insightful of your surroundings AND motivated by innocence and selflessness. And, when the moment comes, you are promised to have the right words to say!
All of this comes when I understand at the start of my spiritual journey in the Faith that being “forewarned is to be forearmed!” Knowing that I will face pushback for my commitment to the faith means I have already realized the purpose of the Faith isn’t to make me “happy” or “comfortable” but to make me READY and FIT for an eternal relationship! That means endurance is required!
Today, have you so armored yourself with the wisdom of the faith that you are completely aware of your surroundings AND harmless in your motivations and actions? Are you so free from the selfish temptations of cynicism and hopelessness that, when the time comes, you have the right words to say to those who simply don’t get why you stay faithful? You can, and all it takes is an honest acceptance that tough times don’t mean you have to give up your confidence and your faith. You can endure but you have to keep your eye on the prize before you – a life of prepared and purposeful readiness to enjoy an eternal relationship!