Wis 18:6-9; Heb 11:1-2,8-19; Luke 12:32-48
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from Association of Catholic Priests
2019 11 August, 2019. 19th Sunday (C)
A faith still searching
There is a crisis in the life of faith of many Catholics, even in what once was complacently called “Holy Ireland.” It can be sparked by different things, like the past cruelties of an unjust system, a disastrous love-relationship, family tensions, the tragic injury or death of friends. Sometimes religious feeling can wither as financial prosperity grows, and our need for God is stifled by a sense of self-sufficiency. Perhaps new friendships that we make with nice people who hold no religious beliefs make us feel that God really does not matter after all. On school retreats we used to hear that going through a questioning phase does not mean we have lost the faith. Questioning of faith can also be a growth point. A faith which is challenged can emerge as deeper and more genuine, changing us from the comfort of childhood certainties to new horizons, searching to base our faith on our experiences.
Faith is neither a purely intellectual nor a purely emotional attitude. It has an intellectual side, professing what we judge to be true; and in part it is a matter of responding to feelings; but these are a gift of the Spirit which moves us to give ourselves over to One greater than ourselves. If we hand ourselves over to this sense of God and let go of the illusion of being only for ourselves, it can bring us inner, spiritual growth.
Faith is a special form of knowing, as when we know a friend. It touches an awareness deep within us, an awareness of God’s presence guiding and helping us. It is the experience described about Abraham, Jesus and other great figures in the Bible. Faith is an on-going process, growing as we grow, changing as we change, maturing and we mature. Our childhood faith cannot sustain us in adulthood, though it can develope into one that stays with us through life.
Experiences of faith will be sporadic, and cannot be precisely programmed. We must be grateful if, at priveleged moments we feel God’s special presence, but at other times life will be confusing, full of darkness and doubt, with God silent and seemingly absent. And yet, even in times of confusion and loneliness, God really is there. This world is God’s and God really does know what is going on in it; other people are God’s people and when we dig deep enough, we can find God in them.
“See that you have your belts done up and your lamps lit.” What meaning can these words have for us, after so many centuries of Christianity? The belts and the lamps indicate the attitude that the servants should have as they await the return of their master. Whenever he comes, they need to be there with their sleeves rolled up and ready for action. They need to be there with the lamps lit, to have the house lit up and to keep themselves awake.
We are called to live responsibly, not in a state of passive lethargy. In the Church’s history it sometimes seems very dark. That does not justify us simply turning off the lights and abandoning hope. It’s the time to awaken our faith and try to plan the future, even in an old and tired Church. The main obstacle to the renewal our Church needs today is the passivity of so many Christians. Unfortunately, for centuries we have been taught to be submissive to authority, rather than be active agents in our own church. But today, we all need to think, project and promote new paths of faithfulness to Jesus.
We need our leaders to encourage the laity to live their discipleship actively. This was one of the main aims of Vatican II, the first council that was concerned directly and explicitly about vocation of lay people. Individual believers today can be the leaven of our parishes in a renewed following of Jesus. They are the greatest potential for the health of Christianity. We need them more than ever to build a Church that is both open to the problems of today’s world and that is close to actual men and women.
Hanging in there
Abraham’s faith in God eventually brought him serenity and joy. The great patriarch had such trust in God’s promise that it kept him going through life. We are impressed at how Abraham obeyed when God asked him to leave the past behind and launch out into an unknown future.
The Gospel says that a whoever belongs to Jesus need have no fear. People who makes God their treasure, and commit to Christ as our guide to living, see life as a journey leading to our true home where a loving Father is there to welcome us. If we can keep our eyes fixed on the vision that God has promised and attune our ears to the voice of God in the scriptures and in the events of daily life, we can live with confidence in his presence.
The same Gospel suggests that God also makes demands of us. If the saints in Scripture had many proofs of God’s love, they also experienced suffering both as individuals and as a race. Often their faith was seriously put to the test, like that of Abraham and his wife Sarah, when it seemed that the promise of children could never be realized. The spirituality of Abraham ruggedly trying out to follow God’s call in the obscurity of faith remains a template for Christian faith.
We don’t know in advance what demands God’s love may make on us that will clash with our own plans. We cannot know when personal illness, bereavement or some other calamity will put us to the test. But we trust that our life will be a success if we set our hearts on being faithful to the will of God. Our faith, like Abraham’s, leads us onward, always pointing to something still to come. If we have faith like his, at the end of our pilgrimage all of God’s promises will be fulfilled.
Ní fios duinn riomh ré cad a iarrfar orainn chun toil Dé a chomhlíonadh. D’fhéadfadh tinneas, bás cara nó tubaiste sinn a thástáil. Ach geall a bheith dílis do thoil Dé, beidh an t-ádh linn inár saol. Sé ár gcreideamh, maraon le Abraham, a dhíríonn sinn i dtreo na bhFlaitheas mar a gheall Dia duinn. Má credimid i nDia ar uair ár mbáis beidh an bheatha shíoraí i ndán dúinn.
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