18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C - 31st July, 2016

Standing Firm, You Will Win True Life for Yourselves

"Standing firm." The original Greek word from which these words are derived is rich in content: it means patience, constancy, resistance, trust. Standing firm is  necessary and indispensable when we suffer, when tempted, when prone to discouragement, when enticed by the seductive pleasures of the world and when experiencing persecution. I expect that you too have found yourself in at least one of these situations and have experienced that, without standing firm, you would have succumbed. Perhaps you have sometimes given in. Maybe now, at this very moment, you find yourself immersed in one of these painful  situations.  So what should you do? Start again and ... stand firm.

Otherwise the name "Christian" is not suitable for you. You know that whoever wants to follow Christ must take up their cross daily. The Christian vocation is a call to perseverance. It is possible to distinguish two categories of people: those who hear the invitation to be true Christians, but this invitation falls on their souls like a seed on rocky ground. There's lots  of enthusiasm, like when you set fire to straw, but afterwards nothing remains.

Then there are those who welcome the invitation, just as good soil receives the seed. The Christian life springs up, grows, overcomes difficulties, resists storms.

These are the ones who stand firm and... 'by standing firm you will win true life for yourselves'

Naturally, if you want to stand firm, it is not enough to rely only on your own strength. You will need God's help. Paul calls God: "The God of steadfastness" (Rom. 15:5). So you must ask him for perseverance, and he will give it.

If you are a Christian you will never be content merely with being baptized or with doing an occasional act of worship or of charity. You must grow as a Christian and every growth in the spiritual life can only come about in the midst of trials, obstacles and battles.

There are people who really know how to stand firm: those who love. Love never sees obstacles or difficulties or sacrifices. And perseverance is love that has been put to the test. Mary is the woman of perseverance.   Ask God to enkindle love for him in your heart, and perseverance will come to you as a consequence, in all the difficulties of life, and with it you will win true life for yourself.

Chiara Lubich - Founder of the Focolare Movement