Believe, Receive, Achieve
Believe.Two of the mostimportant and life-altering words that you will ever utter are these: I believe. But what does it mean to believe? It means to be persuaded by the truth of, or the existence of something. It can also mean being convinced of the reliability of something. Therefore true belief can only be verified by our actions and reactions. For example, one who is convinced of the reliability of God’s promise to never leave or forsake him or her will handle crisis with a composure that cannot be explained by outward circumstances. Circumstances alone might seem to warrant fear, hopelessness and despair like the shepherd boy David standing before the massive and experienced soldier Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Instead of fleeing for his life, little David charges toward the giant and slays him! David’s confidence and courage in the face of adversity was a dead give-away that his faith in God’s presence and power was real! Is your faith for real? When you profess your faith at Mass after the homily, are you telling the truth? Do your actions agree with what you say? Do you love the light or prefer darkness?
Receive. This means to take into one’s possession. A sick person is not cured by picking up her medicine at the pharmacy but by taking the medicine into her system. A starving person is not delivered by thinking intensely about the plate of food in front of him but by consuming the meal which only then becomes a life-saving remedy. In the same way, God gave the gift of his Son but only those who welcome him into their lives experience the power to become children of God (John 1: 12-13). Receive the gift, don’t just admire the package!
Achieve. This means to get or obtain by making an effort. You have to DO something. But achieve also means to bring something to a successful conclusion; to see things through to completion (e.g. achieving the victory). In today’s first reading we read that “early and often” God sent prophets to his people out of love for them and that they reacted by mocking them and despising their warnings. The destruction of the Temple and exile was the result. The situation for God’s people looked as dire as ever. At this point giving up and quitting would have been more than understandable. It would also have been a huge mistake. For in the Kingdom of God, it’s not how you start that matters, but how you finish. You will often be tempted to quit or give up. Don’t. Press on. God has not given up on you. Don’t insult him by giving up on him or on yourself. If you are alive and breathing then victory is still possible and worth sticking around for!