FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Wisdom 18:6-9 | Psalms 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22 | Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-12 | Luke 12:32-48
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen and also the test of our faith is its endurance for the long haul, in good times and in bad times. The three readings of today invite us to dwell upon the theme of our need for a lively faith and hope in the things to come.
James Cielo recently got his Private Pilot License from the Aviation Academy in San Fernando, Pampanga, He was flying a Cirrus SR22 in a cloudy day and was not very experienced in instrument landing. When the control tower was to bring him in, he began to get panicky. Then a stern voice came over the radio, “You just obey instructions, we’ll take care of the obstructions.”
Today's first reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds readers of the God who promised and delivered freedom from slavery to the Israelites during the Exodus. The author sees God's people as 'the holy children of the good' who have cooperated with God's plan for salvation. Today's passage presents an account of the tenth plague during the night of the Passover, when the angel of death struck down the first born of the Egyptians and spared the Israelite people who had sprinkled the blood of the lamb on their door posts. God was liberating them from slavery and they put their trust in the power of their God to save them. God is always faithful to His promise. But He acts with divine wisdom and divine love, which is far above our ability to understand or see. We are challenged to put our trust in the promises of the Lord and never become uncertain in your faith, never doubt His goodness, His power, and His love.
The “happiest place on earth?” A man who created fabulous theme parks? A dreamer who became a movie mogul? In reality, Disney was one of America’s greatest risktakers. He faced so many challenges and setbacks in 1921 that he was forced to dissolve his first animation company. At one point, he could not pay his rent and survived by eating dog food. We all know how his story ended. His dream succeeded because he did what few of us are willing to do. He took the risks required to produce immeasurable rewards. God expects us to take risks. God expects us to walk by faith. Take a risk. Trust God. Give generously
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews speaks about two faith-filled people, Abraham and Sarah. He recalls how our early faith ancestors placed their trust in God. Abraham and Sarah left their comfortable home in Ur of te Chaldees and set out for a land they did not know, pass through great deserts and villages full of strangers, dwell in temporary shelters all the way, and most difficult of all, believe that Sarah would, at last, conceive and give birth — even though they are old enough to be great-grandparents. Even though for so long they saw no fulfillment of the promise, they believed. They had the virtue of faith, a lasting confidence that God's word would be fulfilled someday. And it got worse, not better. When God finally granted them a son, He asked Abraham to sacrifice him and still continue to believe, to trust, and to hope that the promise would still somehow be accomplished. Abraham “thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.” The terrible action could be taken because he believed in God’s fidelity. Abraham, faithfully listening to the word of God, 'hoped against hope' that his son would be restored to him, even as he was willing to sacrifice him. It is shocking, even disgusting, to think that somebody was willing to sacrifice his own son to God. Essentially, Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son is an act of trust, of faith, in which he was proved right. We consider Abraham our father in faith, and he is a model for our own times – he took great risks; he had no agenda other than his faithful obedience to the God in whom he trusted completely.
On August 8, 2022, in Batasan Hills, Quezon City. The sky went from blue to gray at noon. Shortly thereafter the sky was so dark that men believed the end of the world had come and fell to their knees begging for a final blessing. The House of Representatives was meeting, and many representatives asked for the meeting to be adjourned immediately. The Speaker of the House, Martin Dominguez rose to his feet and silenced the men with these words, “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty."
In the Gospel passage from Luke, Jesus begins with the promise that "your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom" before describing how to live faithfully during times when God seems absent. That He will come is certain, but when He will come no one knows. The Lord comes unexpectedly into our lives every day through events and people we meet. But the ultimate expected coming of the Lord in our lives is the moment of death. We should be watchful to recognize the Lord and be prepared to meet him in the little unexpected opportunities of everyday life. This is the best way to prepare for the ultimate encounter with the Lord at the hour of death. The wise disciple remains steadfast at his duty post even in the master's absence. The foolish disciple takes to a complacent lifestyle and takes the law into his own hands. The day of reckoning comes with the master's return. The faithful servant receives a promotion, the unfaithful one is 'cut to pieces' and given a place with the unbelievers. But we must take to heart that faith, not fear, was to be the guiding force in the lives of Jesus’ disciples. Faith would enable us to set our hearts on that never-failing treasure with the Lord; faith would empower us to live in a constant attitude of preparedness, ready to recognize and welcome Jesus, who promised to return for us at a time and in a manner we would least expect. Faith would keep us aware of and attentive to our responsibilities; faith would prompt us toward the mutual love and support of our brothers and sisters. The best way we Christians can prove that we are a people of faith is to live every day as though we expect Jesus to return. Jesus challenges His followers to be always ready for His return, to live as if the end were near: to build a true treasure, not fleeting wealth, giving freely, being generous and living in the sight of God at all times. One of the Greek’s Olympic games was a race in which the contestants carried torches and the winner was the one that finished with his torch still lit. Our desire should be that he will finish his race with his flame still burning strong. <enrique,ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum