Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.
I have known of ‘San Juan Capistrano’ for many years. First it was a place name, then the name of a mission I visited in California. Until today I hadn’t pondered the reason for naming a mission for this St John. But it isn’t terribly difficult to guess: he was a missionary. Best to leave it at that, for now. (You can look at the legacy he left behind on the universalis website, or on wikipedia.)
‘Faithfulness’, like the faithfulness of the martyrs and saints, ‘springs from the earth.’ How so? I have reflected before on the Christological flavor of this psalm: Jesus is faithfulness, a human being perfectly faithful to God. Sometimes I think we get a bit too hung up on our faith, the idea that our faith somehow belongs to us, like our knowledge of physics or our commitments, to children, spouses or causes. ‘Faith’ becomes something we can lose, like we might forget something we learned, or go back on a promise we made. Faith in God isn’t quite like that, though. As St Thomas Aquinas teaches, faith is a theological virtue, infused by God and ours by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, not by learning or by force of will. Our faith, and our practice of the faith, is a participation in the faithfulness of Christ. And fortunately even ‘if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself’ (2 Timothy 2.13).