Faithfulness can be such a hard virtue to cultivate in ourselves. We like to think that we are faithful. We say our prayers, we come to Mass, we even do some acts of service. But the minute some crisis comes along, our faith is easily tested. It is hard to be faithful in the face of frustration, sadness and even anger. If this is true of us, then we are in good company today. The Israelites were certainly better off in the desert than they were in Egypt, but it didn’t take them long to forget that. Now they complain against Moses and Aaron, and most especially against the Lord, forgetting that the Lord would certainly take care of them. And Moses and Aaron had trouble remembering this too. Unwilling servants that they were, as soon as the community starts complaining, they are ready to hand the mission back to the Lord. And finally Peter, who so eloquently professed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah, could not keep his faith when warned that it would take them all to Calvary. There is a lot of unfaithfulness going on here.
Faithfulness was a virtue that St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross held dear. Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau as Edith Stein, she abandoned Judaism in her teens. She studied philosophy under Edmund Husserl, a leading proponent of the philosophy of phenomenology. Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She became a Catholic in 1922, and the following year entered the Carmelite convent at Cologne, where she took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
At the end of 1939, she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.
Faithfulness is easy when there aren’t any obstacles on our path to God. What we need to remember is that when obstacles appear, it doesn’t mean we are cut off from our God. That can never happen. When obstacles appear, when our faith is tested, we need to listen for God’s voice and follow the way he marks out for us. The Psalmist today has all the advice we need to hear: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”