Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. Philippians 3:16
A major theme running through today’s readings is that of faith – faith in the midst of loss, adversity, even persecution. Faith that causes one to rejoice in the Lord when everything seems to be falling apart. Faith that Jesus is the Son of God and we have been chosen to be the bearers of his message of love to the world, no matter what happens. Do you and I have this kind of faith?
In Silence, a 2016 film adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s complex novel of spiritual truth and faith, two Jesuit missionaries travel to 17th century Japan to find a missing fellow priest and minister to his flock. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests witness unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. In one scene, several Christian fisherman refuse to renounce their faith and after brutal torture, are hung on crosses anchored on a sandy beach with an incoming tide. They encourage one another with scripture and sing hymns of praise. One by one, they drown, all except one man who continues to sing praises to God for days until he also perishes. The priests watch this from the safety of their hiding place. Will their own beliefs sustain them under similar circumstances? They soon find out.
God asks us to trust him, believe that Jesus is his son, hold fast to our beliefs, and when hard times hit us, rejoice in him always. As we begin our Lenten devotions, perhaps we should examine the strength of our beliefs and how we show faith in the midst of adversity. We may never be tested like the simple fishermen or the priests in Silence. Yet, do we have the faith that lets us “hold fast to what we have attained”?