Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (August 18, 2019)

Today’s readings remind us of some of the trials we must endure to be sharers in the Lord’s Kingdom. St. Francis de Sales tells us not to be afraid of trials. Our faith in the truth of God’s word will give us victory over our enemies:

All human good arises from persevering in the truth, rather than abandoning it. Our entire good consists in accepting the truth of God’s word, and persevering in it. We may have to suffer to be sharers in the Lord’s Kingdom. Yet, when we are armed with the shield of truth and of faith we will courageously overcome our enemies because our strength is in God and not ourselves.

Fear is the first enemy that comes to us who are resolved to serve God. We think that holiness demands too much of us and we say, “O God, what perfection is needed to live a holy life! It is too high for me. I cannot attain it. I shall never be able to do it.” Let us not entertain the vain hope of wishing to be saints in three months! Think of how fainthearted Peter was at the Crucifixion. Let us keep clearly in mind that everyone is tempted. Let us fear neither the temptation nor the tempter. They will have no power whatsoever over us, if we make use of the shield of faith and the armor of truth. It is our faith in the truth of God’s word that causes us to succeed in our firm and steadfast resolution to serve God as generously and as perfectly as possible in this life.

Do not fear that you are unable to accomplish what God has called you to do. You are armed with God’s truth. God’s Word will strengthen you to persevere and to do what is required for your greater welfare and happiness, providing you walk simply in faithful observance. How happy you are who are armed with the truth of God, for it will be your shield against the arrows of your enemies and will make you victorious!

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)