Growth in the Spirit: Remaining Faithful

God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.” – Saint Teresa of Calcutta 

One of the first people I called when I learned I was losing my job was my friend Sally. “You have been so faithful!” she repeated over and over again. “You have been so faithful!” She really meant it, and she was right. I had been incredibly faithful – I worked hard, I was dedicated to our students, I had raised a lot of money for mission trips and scholarships. None of this, however, would change the fact that my campus ministry position was being eliminated due to budget cuts.  

In reminding me of my faithfulness to the call to ministry, Sally assured me that God is ever faithful to each of us. God would not abandon me as I entered the unknown waters of unemployment. In many ways, she was also giving me permission to leave the past behind and keep moving forward. It would be many months before I could fully comprehend the path ahead, but God was indeed faithful in leading me to new ways of ministering to others. 

The charism of faith is a belief in God’s providence and an abiding trust that all our needs will be taken care of – even if it does not seem reasonable or immediately evident as to how. Faithfulness, as a fruit of the Spirit, is one of the ways that we know we are following God’s desire for our lives. 

In these early days of the Easter season, our scriptures are rich with examples of faithfulness. None of the disciples could have imagined that things would unfold in the way they did, and the way forward was not immediately clear to them. But those who recognize the risen Jesus are marked by their faithfulness:

  • The women stood by as witnesses to Jesus’ brutal crucifixion. They are heartbroken with grief. Yet, early on the first day of the week, the women arrive at the tomb to hold fast to their traditions of honoring the dead. It is there in the garden that Jesus appears to them.
  • Many of the disciples ran away in fear. They are torn apart by guilt and shame. Alas, the disciples return to Galilee to do what they know best – fishing. It is there, where they first met Jesus on the seashore, that they encounter the risen Lord.
  • The couple on the road to Emmaus are filled with confusion and unsure of where to go. They decide to head away from the city and befriend a stranger along the way. They recognize Jesus in the way he opened the scriptures, prayed a blessing, and broke the bread. Then they rush back to Jerusalem to share the good news with others. 

If I asked you to tell me a story about faithfulness, how would you describe it? Who are the people you know who exemplify faithfulness today? 

  • A friend of mine lost her husband, much too young, several years ago. It is a story of heartbreak, hard decisions, and humbly asking for help from others. But her faithfulness shines forth in her fidelity and love for their two children.
  • One of my social justice heroes, Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ has dedicated her life to upholding the dignity of people on death row and advocating for the elimination of the death penalty. Even when the United States resumed federal executions last year, she remained relentless in her compassion, outspoken in her advocacy, and faithful in her accompaniment with death row inmates.
  • The past year of living through the pandemic is full of stories of faithfulness. We have buried loved ones, tended to those who are sick or isolated, supported our healthcare and frontline workers, and poured endless amounts of energy into remote learning. Each one of us is doing our small part to keep our communities safe. 

Sometimes faithfulness means returning to our roots, the foundations of prayer, and the stories that have shaped our lives. Other times, being faithful means digging in our heels and not giving up! Faithfulness also requires us to trust the process of dying and letting go in order for God to transform our lives. 

Faithfulness gives us the confidence and courage to continue on the path God has shown us. It does not mean that we’re going to win every battle or that life is always going to go our way. As the letter to the Philippians says, “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9) 

Faithfulness allows us to move forward, because Jesus has already shown us the way! Keep on doing the things – loving others, welcoming the stranger, wiping away another’s tears, standing in solidarity with the poor, giving bread to the hungry, forgiving enemies, seeking peace, dying and rising – and we can be assured of God’s faithfulness in return and the Risen One will meet us along the way. 

 

 

Going Deeper: 

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.com

Beth Knobbe is an author, speaker, and ministry professional based in Chicago, Illinois. She earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Catholic Theological Union and serves as a Community Engagement Manager with Catholic Relief Services, engaging Catholics in living their faith in solidarity with the poor around the world. Beth is an avid traveler and is passionate about her vocation to the single life. Beth is the author of Party of One: Living Single with Faith, Purpose, and Passion (2011) and Finding My Voice: A Young Woman’s Perspective (2009). Her personal blog can be found at www.bethknobbe.com.

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