Beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand
by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit.
Keep yourselves in the love of God
and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
that leads to eternal life.
~Jude 17, 20-21
Today’s reading encourages us to practice the theological virtues of faith, hope and love.
I would like to share with you a story of faith I was blessed to have witness.
A while ago, a good religious friend of mine was ordained to the priesthood. We met a number of years prior while serving together in the homeless ministry which his religious community runs. He had invited some of our friends and patrons from the streets to attend his ordination. I was tasked with ushering one of the side doors to the cathedral that day. Friends, family, clergy and brother religious came in numbers filling up the cathedral. As the time for Mass drew near, my attention was drawn to a familiar figure hovering on the side, about ten meters from the door where I was standing. She was an elderly lady whom all those who serve knew well. We get to see her at the end of every night of ministry without fail. She would come out from the small apartment she shares with her son to say hello and update us on her day; she is the full-time career for her adult disabled, bed-bound son. And then she would pray with us as we conclude the evening of service for the homeless.
It was such a joy to see that someone we serve had returned the favor and came to pray for my friend on his ordination day. However, I could see that she was hesitating to enter the cathedral. So I walked up to greet her and invited her in. At this point, she stopped, looked at me and put down the two plastic bags that she had carried all the way on foot from her home.
She said to me, “Yes, I will go in. But first I have to change my shoes. I wore one pair to walk here, but I have to put on my best pair of shoes to enter the church.”
This left me speechless.
Here is a lady with little material possessions, socially isolated with very limited resources and support, and yet she was able to keep a good pair of shoes to enter the house of Lord. I was so ashamed at how little I had considered and how ill-prepared I had been each time I enter a church, whereas she reserved her best for God. This lady possessed richly the thing that matters - faith.
She taught me one of the most poignant lessons in faith and reverence I have ever learned.