Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Sir 27:4-7
Psalm 92:2-3, 13-16
2) 1 Cor 15:54-58
Gospel: Lk 6:39-45
Failures vary and get to us in a variety of ways. Against discouragement it is useful to have a range of remedies on hand.
Walking away from unsuccess, we can find cheerful thoughts. “There are still other options” may raise the spirits. “It was a learning experience” and “there are inevitably failures on the road to the goal” are mood lighteners.
Occasionally helpful is the perspective that “this was never going to work out anyway, so it’s good it failed quickly.”
But some failures can’t be walked away from. Trying to build a good marriage, to stem the shrinkage of a parish, to help a loved one deal with addiction, to guide a teen into adulthood, to get the training and education we need, to fight cancer — when our attempts do not meet with success, we cannot just give up and move on.
Yet when our hard work for a person, an organization, a parish, a society yields few results or even blows up in our faces, a dark mood is hard to fight.
I dare say, all the most potent medicines for discouragement involve God. St. Paul offers one today.
“Be firm,” Paul says, “steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58). This is a shaft of light in the darkness of any discouragement. In fact, the light is so bright it takes the eyes a little time to adjust.
The light is the prospect of resurrection. God raised Jesus from the dead, Paul says, and at the end of history he will raise up all those who are in Christ. The victory of life over death will engulf the victory of death over life (“Where, O death, is your victory?”).
Then everything God ever did through his Son will stand triumphant over every force that opposed him. God’s accomplishment will include every way he acted in and through those who cooperated with him.
That means that all of our efforts to work with God — the failures as well as the successes — will be revealed as part of his plan of salvation brought to fulfillment.
This prospect does not change our failures, but it negates the apparent logic of discouragement. If we continue to work with God in the situations he gives us, none of our efforts will be lost.
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.