Faith, hope, and charity are our 'meat and potatoes'
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 16
Isaiah 45:1,4-6; Psalm 96:1,3,4-5,7-8,9-10; 1 Thesssalonians 1:1-5b; Matthew 22:15-21
It is clear from this Sunday’s Gospel what our Lord is referring to when He says, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” In this case He is speaking of taxes.
But what does Jesus mean when He says that we are to repay to God the things that are God’s? He gives no indication of what that means.
If we look at the second reading from St. Paul perhaps we can find part of the answer to this question. He writes, “We unceasingly call to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Here St. Paul mentions what we call the theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.
These three virtues are gifts that God has given to us. He infused faith, hope and charity into our souls -- in most cases at baptism. These gifts direct our hearts and minds to God so that we can have a relationship with Him. They enable us to live as His beloved children.
MORE THAN “FROSTING”
We can in a sense “repay” to God what belongs to Him when we use or practice the gifts of faith, hope, and charity He has given us. We practice these gifts when we pray and when we seek to do the will of God in our lives. Every prayer is an act of faith for we must believe in God and believe that He hears us. Many prayers are also acts of hope -- especially those prayers when we ask for something and hope that our prayer will be answered.
But the greatest prayer is an act of love, for love is the greatest of all the gifts. We can show God we love Him by telling Him we love him, but above we show Him that we love Him by conforming our will to His will. This may mean accepting a trial or difficulty, keeping His commandments, fulfilling our duties in life, or doing a good work out of love for Him and a desire to please Him.
We can also practice these virtues by making acts of faith, hope, and charity. The following are examples of such acts:
Act of Faith: “O God, I firmly believe all the sacred truths the Holy Catholic Church believes and teaches because they have been revealed by You, the sovereign truth, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, and by the assistance of your holy grace, I am resolved to live and die in the communion of this your church.”
Act of Hope: “O God, trusting in your goodness, power and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins and life everlasting through the merits of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our only redeemer and by the intercession of his Blessed Mother and all the saints.”
Act of Charity: “O God, I love You with my whole heart and soul because You are most worthy of all my love. I desire to love You as the blessed do in heaven. I adore all the designs of Your divine providence, resigning myself entirely to Your will. I also love my neighbor for Your sake as I love myself.”
Faith, hope and charity aren’t meant to be like the frosting on the cake of our lives. Rather, they are meant to be our meat and potatoes -- what sustains us, what keeps us going. In practicing them we discover the secret to the meaning of our existence.
FATHER JAMES KING is a priest of the Diocese of Peoria who is on leave of absence for health reasons. He also is writing a series for The Catholic Post on ways to encounter God in everyday life through Scripture and traditional Catholic devotions.