Our readings today encourage us to evaluate the depth of our faith. Is it secure enough to assure that we are prepared for the Day of the Lord? One of the beautiful benefits of the gift of faith is that it allows us to look to the future with hope. In the 2nd reading, from Hebrews, the writer raises up for us the model of Abraham, our Father in faith, and his wife Sarah who trusted in God’s ways as unfathomable as they might have seemed. The first reading from the Book of Wisdom invites us to recall the faith of the Israelites as Moses under the guidance of the Lord led them toward the Promised Land.
The reality is that we can question God’s ways and therefore lose hope. Abraham and Sarah did not, many of the Israelites did. In his encyclical Lumen Fidei, The light of faith, Pope Francis attests to what happens when the light of faith is darkened by anxiety, sin or selfishness. He wrote: “. . . in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.”
The encyclical describes what faith can be for us. The Pope wrote, “Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus but sees things as Jesus himself sees them with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing. In many areas in our lives we trust others to know more than we do. We trust the architect who builds our home, the pharmacist who gives us medicine for healing, the lawyer who defends us in court. We also need someone trustworthy and knowledgeable where God is concerned. Jesus, the Son of God, is the one who makes God known to us.” What a powerful and consoling thought, if we open our hearts in pure faith we can see as does Jesus. It is in the Church that this is possible.
Jesus in the Gospel reading states the honest challenge: “You must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Surely he is speaking of the Second Coming when there will be general judgment, but also likely anticipating that time when we are called personally to meet the Lord with particular judgment. He taught that we must be prepared at all times and that one way to do so is by loving service to others – faith in action.
Whenever death comes, tomorrow or 20 years from now, how well prepared will God find us. He challenges us to take inventory of how prepared, how well we live out our faith in action.
A couple became parents to a special needs child. They were upset, angry and scared as they approached the challenge of raising him. Over time they accepted their responsibility but often questioned why them, especially when they saw seemingly healthy children. One day the parents were watching as their child played the game of giving away kisses. Each finger is kissed and another person touched with it, giving away a kiss of love. The other children knowing there were only four kids playing the game kissed four fingers. Their little boy kissed all five on his hand, distributed them and found himself with an extra kiss. He paused then pulled open his pocket and slipped the kiss in to save it. It recalled for them the old song Catch a Falling Star and put it in your pocket never let it fade away. His parents then recognized that in fact they were specially blessed with a son who loved and offered hope, and would not let it fade away. Let us not let our faith fade away by anxiety, doubt or the secular culture.
A mother and daughter were shopping and the mother asked her daughter to hold her purse. The daughter took it and staggered under its weight. Over lunch she asked her mother what made it so heavy. The mother began to empty it commenting as she did. She pulled out grocery coupons, maps, lottery tickets, an envelope with cash in case muggers got her wallet, two change purses, one for groceries and one for other needs like parking meters, antacids, a tape measure, a flashlight, scissors, a calculator, bankbooks, rings of keys, a novena book, two rosaries one in the wallet and one separate in case the muggers actually stole her wallet so she could pray for them, a kitchen timer so that the church group wouldn’t overcook meals for the homeless, a needle and thread, a Swiss army knife, screws, a sheet of sandpaper, a garbage bag in case someone got sick. As the daughter looked at the pile she marveled how well prepared her mother was to be a caregiver no matter where she went or with whom. She was prepared for putting faith in action.
The Holy Father’s encyclical ends with a prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith: “Mother, help our faith. Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call. Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise. Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith. Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature. Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One. Remind us that those who believe are never alone. Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, Our Lord. Amen.”
Be prepared Jesus teaches. We will be if we seek to see as He does.