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Faith, example of Christ teach us daily
duties have important spiritual benefits

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Once again it seems that this summer has flown by! It’s already the end of July, and the beginning of a new school year is just around the corner. Like me, you probably have plans for the summer that somehow haven’t happened, or aren’t completed, and perhaps won’t be in the coming weeks. How much it seems that we are never ready for what comes next! Yet, it is very good to keep all these things in the perspective of faith. This life is not all we have, and is our preparation for eternity. What we do or don’t do in this life is ultimately most meaningful in terms of our salvation, and that of others to whom God gives us to be fruitful, and likewise least meaningful in terms of our worldly success or comfort or satisfaction.

So when we can’t do everything we want to do, we should choose to do first what is most loving and needful for others, and second what is necessary, both according to our vocation and state in life. For most of us, this first category means spending time with family and friends, especially those who are more in need because of age or sickness or other circumstances; attending to the needs of the poor and the weak in our community, often through the activities of the Church and charitable groups like the Knights of Columbus or the Diocesan Women’s Conference; and witnessing to our Catholic faith in the ordinary ways every day. It also includes prayer, of course, because our prayers for other people are one of the most profound ways we can support and comfort them, and make our other efforts more fruitful.

Again, for most of us, the category of “necessity” means especially work, and other duties like studying, or paying the bills, the ordinary chores of keeping a home, and so on. These are often dull or tedious things to do, and it’s difficult to find any enjoyment in many of these things. But our faith, and the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, clearly teach us that none of these necessary duties are without spiritual benefit, if we undertake them in a spirit of prayerful service. Whatever we do, does some good for someone, even if it’s merely that someone else doesn’t have to do what we’ve already done. And often, of course, our work or our chores are much more meaningful than that. In all of these things, then, we have the opportunity to aspire to a more perfect Christ-like love; to choose, in doing what we must do, the good of the other as our activity’s end or goal. This love unites us with Christ, even in the midst of drudgery, and allows us to experience in some little way the joy of His Resurrection. This is what St. Therese of Lisieux called the “little way,” of doing ordinary things with great love. It is an avenue of faith and love that is open to all of us!

King David in the news

I noted this week in the more obscure news, the announcement of the completion of an excavation of an archeological site in Israel. It’s a hill-top palace complex, about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, called “Khirbet Qeiyafa.” It has been dated to 1020-980 BC (King David probably died about 975 BC), and included several larger buildings and at least one public worship space. This is interesting because, once again, the evidence shows that, at least in general terms if not in every single detail, the story of Israel in the Bible is historically true. At the time that the Bible portrays King David building up the kingdom of Israel and developing a fairly complicated and well-organized royal administration, the archeological evidence shows well-equipped centers of royal administration being built. Many theories of Biblical interpretation in the past two centuries have tried to claim that David’s kingdom, and many other parts of the Biblical history, could not possibly have been true, for one ideological reason or another. But these theories that deny the broad outlines of Israel’s history are repeatedly falsified by archeology.

But this is very significant for our faith. If the historical facts are, by and large, verifiable, then we have no convincing grounds to reject the theological meanings the Bible writers assigned to these events. And if those meanings are durable, then, in short, how Jesus Christ fulfills the prophetic meanings is also reliable. Therefore the witness of the Apostles is likewise reliable, and so forth. The great chain of proclamation of God, from the prophets of the Old Testament down to the present day, is unbroken, and cannot be shown at any point to be particularly fragile; it rests on real events and a consistent manner of interpreting those events. Or as St. Peter said, “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pt 1:20-21)

Dear brothers and sisters, trust in your faith! It comes from God, through the ministry of the Church, and it is trustworthy! Believe in the power of prayer and sacrifice to change hearts and save souls. Let these remaining weeks of summer become an opportunity to imitate Christ and the saints more deeply, in charity and faith. Please remember to pray for me and for your priests, just as I pray constantly for you and all your needs.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless,
Bishop of Sioux City

 

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