This Homily was given at 10AM Morning Prayer Rite II on October 28, 2018 by Dr. Suzanne Bowles
Job 42:1-6, 10-17 - Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22 - Hebrews 7:23-28 - Mark 10:46-52
Today’s fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness. One example is Cal Ripken, Jr.--he holds the record for most consecutive games played in major league baseball, 2632. This broke the record previously set by Lou Gehrig, 2130, which had stood for 56 years. Many people thought this record would never be broken, but Ripken did it and it took him over 16 years of playing every single game. That’s astonishing!
Here’s another one. Look at Queen Elizabeth II, 92 years old and 66 years on the throne. Some might say, “Well, that’s not an achievement. All she had to do was live a long time.” But there’s a lot more to it than that. Every single day she gets boxes of paperwork – documents to read and papers to sign. They’re called dispatch boxes, big red leather boxes. She calls it “doing her boxes.” These come every single day, the only exceptions being Christmas and Easter. Apart from holidays she has only ever missed two days in her entire reign – when she gave birth to her two younger children. That’s astonishing, too! But not surprising when you consider the speech she gave on her 21st birthday. She said, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.” That was in 1947 and she is still fulfilling it today. Interestingly, she said in that same speech that she could not do it without God’s help and she asked her listeners to pray for her.
Another example is from Scripture, the story of Anna in Luke 2:36-38. Anna was married for seven years and widowed at a young age. We are told she prayed in the temple day and night till she was 84 when she was rewarded by seeing the baby Jesus when his parents brought him to the temple.
Faithfulness, as we are thinking of it, is not simply a character trait, but is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are traits by which believers should be known. Indeed, if left to our own devices we can’t really achieve them. It is having the Holy Spirit, the 3d person of the Trinity, in our hearts (as Jesus promised before Pentecost) that enables us to live out these traits.
There’s another side of the coin as well. These fruits of the Spirit reflect traits of God himself. So we are not merely supposed to be faithful, but to trust first that God is faithful to us. He keeps his promises to us even though we are weak and frail sinners who don’t deserve it. Much of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, is the story of God’s being faithful to his people. In 1 John 1:9 we are told the cure for our sinful nature is to confess our sins and that God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God is faithful to us all the time and when we grasp that we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts we can be faithful, too, and express that in our daily actions.
We all can’t be Cal Ripken or the Queen or the prophetess Anna, but everything we do, however small, that exhibits faithfulness, is done to the glory of God. We don’t have to do something spectacular. In Luke 16:10 Jesus tells us that “He who is faithful in little is faithful in much.” So we can start small. No effort goes unappreciated by God. In the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 what does the master say to the two servants who invested the money he gave them? “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To me, that’s the ultimate compliment from God. That’s what I long to hear from Jesus one day and I’m sure you do, too. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Amen.