God does not ask you to be successful. God asks you to be faithful.
Such was the the substance of our Sunday homily this morning. The homilist had these words hanging in his office on a small paper that was once his mentor’s.
These words strike at a central reality of what it means to be a Catholic Christian in today’s world. Worldly success is not evil, but it also should not be an end in itself. It is certainly a means, and we should pursue it, but not to the point that we lose sight of the real goal of our eternal salvation. God has called us to be faithful to Him, and sometimes that will mean enduring significantly unsuccessful periods of life. In light of our goal, however, we see how He transforms such periods into grace-filled moments that reorient us toward Him.
St. Josemaria Escriva put it well as he summed up the need we have to keep our eyes on our eternal goal. We are to use our earthly success to build up the Church and to bring a bit of the divine into a world that so desperately needs it:
How marvellous it will be when we hear Our Father tell us, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant, because you have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many; enter into the joy of your Lord!’ Let us be full of hope! This is the great thing about being a contemplative soul. We live by Faith, Hope and Love, and Hope makes us powerful. Do you remember what St John says? ‘I am writing to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have conquered the evil one.’ God is urging us on, for the sake of the eternal youthfulness of the Church and of all mankind. You have the power to transform everything human into something divine, just as King Midas turned everything he touched into gold!
Do not ever forget that after death you will be welcomed by Love itself. And in the love of God you will find as well all the noble loves which you had on earth. Our Lord has arranged for us to spend this brief day of our earthly existence working and, like his only-begotten Son, ‘doing good’. Meanwhile we have to be on our guard, alert to the call St Ignatius of Antioch felt within his soul as the hour of his martyrdom approached. ‘Come to the Father,’ come to your Father, who anxiously awaits you.
Let us ask Holy Mary, Spes Nostra, our hope, to kindle in us a holy desire that we may all come together to dwell in the house of the Father. Nothing need disturb us if we make up our minds to anchor our hearts in a real longing for our true fatherland. Our Lord will lead us there with his grace, and he will send a good wind to carry our ship to the bright shores of our destination.
– The Friends of God, Christian Hope, No. 221