The gift of faith makes us watchers. In the modern age, we have security devices, systems, and firms – we trust in professionals and protocols to keep us safe. While this is very good and practical because it enables us to go about our daily lives without constantly looking over our shoulder, we must never forget spiritual vigilance. We are sentinels, but the first thing we are keeping watch over is not the earthly city. We are watchers over the kingdom of God – a Kingdom (as Jesus reminds us) that is also, and most importantly, within us. When we pray, we are actively fulfilling our duty to keep watch. They eyes of faith enable us to know what is invisible – a kind of paradox of the Christian life. We are to become sentinels and watchers of the invisible. Setting the eyes of our heart upon the invisible God and eternity, we are better situated to warn our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity about the dangers they ignore because they aren’t looking. The vigilant Christian remembers. Remembering is a form of keeping watch for what is invisible. The vigilant Christian remembers constantly that he or she will be leaving this earthly existence behind and only their soul – which is also invisible – will appear before its Creator.
St. Dominic is a wonderful example for us about this vigilance. It is said that he only ever spoke of or to God. Let us remember what is invisible and all-powerful.
If someone perseveres continually in this watchfulness, therefore, he will effectively bring to pass what is quite plainly expressed by the prophet Habakkuk: “I will stand on my watch and go upon my rock, and I will look out to see what he will say to me and what I should reply to him who reproaches me.” The laboriousness and difficulty of this is very clearly proved by the experiences of those who dwell in the desert of Calamus or Porphyrion.1
EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA:
He is blessed who is named by another prophet, “He that comes,” in the passage, “Yet a little while, and he that comes will come and will not tarry,” who also came in the name of the Lord God his Father. And he is the Lord God that appeared for us. For he insists that he has come in the name of his Father when he says to the Jews, “I have come in my Father’s name, and you receive me not. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” He, then, who appeared for us—the Lord God, the blessed, who comes in the name of the Lord—was also the stone that those of old built up on the foundation of the Mosaic teaching, which they set aside and which, though set aside by them, has become the head of the corner of the church of the Gentiles. The oracle says it is wonderful, not to all that look on it but only to the eyes of the prophets, when it says, “And it is wonderful in our eyes.”2
“[The Lord] who keeps the truth forever.” If we are crushed by falsehood and deceit, let us not grieve over it. The Lord is the guardian of truth for all eternity. Someone has lied against us, and the liar is given more credence than we who are telling the truth. We must not despair. The Lord keeps faith forever. Aptly said, “keeps.” He keeps truth and keeps it in his own treasury; he pays back to us what he has stored away for us. “Who keeps truth forever.” Christ is truth; let us speak truth, and truth will safeguard truth for us. “[The Lord] secures justice for the oppressed.” Even if justice delays its coming, do not give up hope; “it will surely come,” and bring salvation, securing justice for the oppressed. May our conscience testify only that we are not suffering on account of our sins and that we are not guilty of the charge brought against us.3
Those just people also were saved by their salutary faith in him as man and God who, before he came in the flesh, believed that he was to come in the flesh. Our faith is the same as theirs, since they believed that this would be, while we believe that it has come to pass. Hence the apostle Paul says, “But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: ‘I believed for which cause I have spoken,’ we also believe for which cause we speak also.” If, then, those who foretold that Christ would come in the flesh had the same faith as those who have recorded his coming, these religious mysteries could vary according to the diversity of times, yet all refer most harmoniously to the unity of the same faith. It is written in the Acts of the Apostles that the apostle Peter said, “Now therefore why do you make trial of your God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus just as they will.” If, therefore, they, that is, the fathers, being unable to bear the yoke of the old law, believed that they were saved through grace of the Lord Jesus, it is clear that this grace saved even the just people of old through faith, for “the just man lives by faith.”4
The Scripture shows that this man is very weak in faith. This is evident from many things: from Christ’s saying, “All things are possible to him who believes,” and from the fact that the man himself as he approached said, “Help my unbelief.” And it is evident from Christ’s ordering the demon “never to enter him again” and from the man’s saying again to Christ, “If you can.” But you will say, “If his unbelief was the reason why the demon had not gone out of the boy, why does he blame the disciples?” To show that they can often cure the sick, even though no one brings them in with faith. For just as the faith of the one bringing in the sick was often sufficient for receiving a cure even from lesser ministers, so the virtue of the minister was also sufficient to achieve a miracle even without the faith of those bringing them in. Both of these are demonstrated in the Scriptures; for those around Cornelius drew to them the power of the Spirit by their faith. And in the time of Elisha, when no one believed, a dead man was raised.5
Note that it was not the suffering victim but the demon who had to be directly rebuked. It may be that he indirectly rebuked the boy and the demon went out of him because it was owing to his sins that the demon had oppressed him.6
- CONFERENCE 24.4.1. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (pp. 190–191). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- PROOF OF THE GOSPEL 9.18. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 191). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILIES ON THE PSALMS 55. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (pp. 191–192). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- LETTER 190. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (pp. 193–194). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 57.3. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 60). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 3.17.18. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 61). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.