“Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). With this statement, John tells us of Jesus’ eternal faithfulness toward us. Faithfulness is the foundation of all good relationships. If we are to be in relationship with him, we are to remain faithful to him throughout the trials and tribulations of this life. If we do, in his faithfulness toward us, he will crown us with eternal life. We will be in relationship with him forever.
Christ, the first and the last, who once died and came to life, says to the Church, to us, that he sees our suffering and our poverty. He knows those who slander us for following him and tells us not to fear them, or any other kind of suffering that comes our way because of our love for him. He tells us that we will suffer for his name at times and that we will be tested in our faith. Though our suffering here may be difficult, he tells us it will not last long. For, if we remain faithful to him through it all until death, if we put our whole trust in him, he will not abandon us. Rather, he will give us life, life eternal, in the joyful realm of his heavenly kingdom. We will not be harmed by what John calls the “second death,” that is, final damnation.
Those of us who have lived long enough in the practice of this faith know that it is not easy. We may have encountered truly negative experiences because of our faith in Jesus Christ. And we also know that as long as we are alive there will be the constant struggle with internal temptations, as well as the potential of external threats of various kinds from those who hate God. We are not ignorant of these things. And because we are alive and conscious, we know the difficulties that arise from our laziness and fear, our occasional doubts and bouts of pride. But we also know that God is with us. He knows our hearts and our desire to be in relationship with him. He does not abandon us in the here and now either. He gives us the graces we need to patiently endure the insults and false accusations, or worse, that may come our way for believing in him. In faith, we know that when we are accosted by temptations, if we turn to God, he is instantly there to empower us with his loving grace.
We know, too, that while faith is a generous gift from God, we have a duty to develop it by committing ourselves to growing in our relationship with Jesus on a daily basis. We can do this by making prayer a daily habit. We can learn to begin our day thinking first about God, about being in his presence, and asking him to walk with us throughout our day. Throughout the day, when troubles come we can pray in our fear, or our anxiety, and he will be there for us. If moments of grace come to us, we can pause and give him thanks. And we can end our day by taking time apart before going to sleep to go over our day with him, thanking him for the graces he gave us during the day, asking his forgiveness for whatever failings we might have experienced, and by praying for his graces upon the various people we may have met during the day. This is what a faithful relationship looks like and what it does.
Lord, deepen within us a love for you and your law. Help us to walk with you, confident in your faithfulness every day. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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