30th Sunday C
23rd October 2022
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“Fighting the good fight”
The experience of Covid brought lots of new words into our vocabulary. One of the most prominent to emerge was “resilience”. It seemed to capture well the spirit of patience endurance that was required of us to cope with the challenge confronting us. Thankfully many people had it in abundance, especially so many who were on the “front line” dealing with it in hospitals and nursing homes.
Most, if not all, who demonstrated that “resilience” did so not because of a possible bonus financially but because they cared and those in their care mattered equally so. That capacity to care so deeply and so generously was surely a powerful witness to the inspiration of Christ’s love and compassion in our time.
St. Paul writing to Timothy speaks candidly of his own life experience as time ebbs away from him – he declares “I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith”;
He has given his all – so he is content about the future – he has no fear.
Surely that’s a wonderful blessing to experience as he moves towards life’s close. As we think on that experience of St. Paul what lesson might there be in it for us? A clue is found in the 1st Reading from Ecclesiasticus where a person of humility is to be prized about all else – “The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds”. In the Gospel “the one who humbles themselves will be exalted”.
To be humble in life to-day is a challenge because so much of education and business trains people to assert and promote themselves and their opinions.
It takes faith to pray out of a spirit of humility – it means acceptance of the Transcendent, of God, of the Divine, in plainer terms, acceptance of a Higher Power in whom we trust and hope. It takes a humble heart to pray “God, be merciful to me a sinner” like the tax collector did.
To be humble should not be mistaken for a false modesty. We usually see through it fairly fast. True humility recognises gift, talent and accomplishments side by side with self-indulgence and arrogance.
It takes a healthy level of suspicion to cut through so much marketing and promotion. Doing so enables us to make realistic choices in life and avoid being taken in by superficiality and thinly disguised deception.
On a wider level we find good spiritual practice and lifestyle being packaged to us as a new breakthrough in holistic living which you can access at a ridiculous price. A dose of common sense won’t go astray in the coming months of cost-of-living challenges. We can serve our children well if in straightened times we help them to see the wise choices being made by their parents.
Faith and humility really enrich us and our families when we stay grounded before the challenges. You can call it “resilience”. St. Paul might call it “fighting the good fight”.