Saturday, August 7, 2010

Homily - Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

In a dark and damp cellar in Cologne, Germany, where thousands of Jews once hid from Nazi torment, an inscription was discovered not long after the end of World War II. Scrawled across a stone wall by an anonymous author were the words: "I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God even when He is silent."
These words undoubtedly served as a prayer against the unspeakable evil of the Holocaust. And, it was likely a source of hope and encouragement in something bigger, better, greater for the author and all who read it in their time of great fear, pain and suffering. And the same can be said of today’s readings.
Like the words scrawled in the cellar, the words that open today’s second reading tell us what faith DOES. Faith gives us “the realization (or assurance) of what is hoped for and evidence (or inner conviction) of things not seen.” Faith offers us trust and confidence even when we lack the clarity and understanding we desire.
Our faith is in WHO God is: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And we will stand together in just a couple of minutes to make our profession of faith IN our God. Our faith is also in WHAT God does for us. It is God, who from the fullness of his love addresses us as his friends, who made us, who saves us, provides for us, delivers, and protects us – so that we might taste, here and now, the joy, the happiness, the peace that he offers us eternally. Our faith is also in WHAT we do: in faith, through the grace of God, we completely submit to God’s love, we assent to God’s will. This response to God, we call "the obedience of faith."
Today’s readings offer wonderful examples of such obedience of faith. Today’s first reading from Wisdom praises the faith of the Israelite people, who ‘with sure knowledge’ trusted in God’s promise to Abraham that they would be delivered out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt through the Exodus and be given their ultimate freedom. In the second reading, we read of the great faith of Abraham.
By faith in God, Abraham obeyed when he was called by God to leave everything and go out to a foreign land. By faith in God, Abraham’s wife Sarah was given to conceive the son in their old age. And by faith in God, Abraham offered his only son in sacrifice.
Our faith is a source of hope and encouragement and it makes us want to be ready. By readiness I mean an eagerness, a hopefulness for what is to come, for what is promised. And like the Israelites in today’s first reading or Abraham who we recalled in the second reading or the servant-in-waiting in today’s gospel, we must be ready, we must be prepared. Prepared for God’s promise to be fulfilled, which for us, is the second coming of Christ, who will come in glory to achieve the definitive triumph of good over evil. As Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel, we “must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
And so we must take to heart Jesus’ instructions to free ourselves from any distractions. We cannot let fear, anger, pride, or greed distract us. We must conform our thoughts, words and actions to the ‘master’s will’ so that we avoid the same punishment as the servant in today’s Gospel “who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations or act in accord with his will.” We must trust in God’s love and his promise of eternal life; and we must hope to share of the inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
Our faith is a personal act and not always perfect. Our faith is also not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. We have received our faith, not only from the grace of God, but also from the example and encouragement of others. We are called, by our Baptism, to hand our faith on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I can help support the faith of others. And so, we must take to heart Jesus’ instruction at the end of today’s Gospel: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
So, I ask you: Who in your life is lacking faith in God? Who lacks a trust or confidence in God? Who in your life could benefit from your faith?
In faith, pray for them. But even better let your faith be an example and a source of encouragement and hope for them. Allow your words and actions to bring hope to their life. Let your trust in God, allow their faith to grow.
May God bless you and those that you need your faith example.