Sunday, August 7, 2016

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Faith of Our Fathers

Today's readings deal with faith and following it.

In the first reading, we read about the preparation "our fathers," - or those in the past - received. God revealed to them His salvific plan and led them into the roles they would take which would be recorded in Sacred Scripture.  The stories that we read about in the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament are not coincidences.  God in His divine providence has been guiding the process of salvation (Psalm 25:5, Jeremiah 30:11). This "faith of our fathers' is what we have inherited and must continue to pass on until the day when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5).  The salvific plan of God did not die out with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses or even with Jesus.  It is still ongoing (Mark 16:15).  This is why we have the Catholic Church which Christ founded upon Peter, the rock (Matthew 16:18).  The Church is like a ship gathering souls to bring them to safe haven. On the news, we hear of refugees escaping Syria and other nations via boats.  Think of it in this light. The Church is gathering up souls to bring them to God.  This is why we say in today's responsorial Psalm, "Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be His own."  We must exult and praise God who is our Father.  We are His nation, His people (1 Peter 2:9).  God is with those who fear Him. The term 'fear' here does not mean fear as in being scared of God.  Fear in the biblical sense is reverence. We must have great respect for God. God is with us.  He is indeed our help and shield (Psalm 91).  If you do not believe this, just take a look at the Church's history.  The Catholic Church has faced all kinds of scandals and attacks from both within and without, yet she still thrives. This is because God protects her.  The faith will not die out.

As we read in the second reading, the faith is something that gives hope.  Our faith is a journey towards a hope of things not seen. We do not have evidence as in the case with DNA or fossil records, but our minds and hearts tell us that our faith is not in vain. Even in science, scientists believe ideas without having evidence.  They rely on the law of parsimony which allows them to accept the best conclusion possible. We may not see a God hovering up over the earth on a throne or angels flying about, but we know based on our faith and what I call the "hints in nature" that there is a God (Romans 1:20).  My book, "Atheism Is Stupid" goes more into detail in this and I advise you to get a copy so that you can see why faith is important and why nothing in science disproves God.  Faith to us is a deep trust in God.  It is a relationship. Atheists love to mock theists regarding the idea of faith. They think of it as a religious person blindly following ideas without proof.  This is not what faith is.  Faith is not like, "hey I am going to just believe this" and not ask questions.  Instead, faith drives us to ask questions and seek more knowledge of God and the teachings of the Church.  This faith draws us to think and do things that the world does not understand because it dwells on what is immediately tangible by the senses (1 Corinthians 2:14).  Our faith must be a living organ in our lives, so to speak.  It must not be something we do on Sundays or holy days of obligation.  Faith is not something that must be done "in private." If we use our faith as a part-time thing, we run the risk of being that faulty servant which Jesus speaks to us about in the Gospel.

In the Gospel,  Jesus tells the disciples that they must not be afraid and must make radical changes in their lives.  This change includes and is not limited to, helping others, detachment from material goods, and a desire to be able to enjoy the treasures of heaven.  We must not be like the servant who was left in charge only to abuse others and lead by bad example.  Our faith must be authentic and not abused (Matthew 6:5).  Christ can come at any moment like a theif in the night(1 Thessalonians 5:2).  This is why we must be on alert doing the right thing by living out our faith with sincerity and zeal.  Our salvation truly depends on this commitment.  We must not be like the one who grabs the plow only to look back (Luke 9:62).  If we decided to follow Jesus, we must continue and not look back.  Each one of us plays an important role in the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-26 ).  We cannot leave the work of faith to the clergy and sit back. Rather, we must utilize our roles in life to increase the faith in ourselves and in others.  If we do this, then we will be the good servant that takes care of the master's house.  Let us continue to grow in faith and promote it.  We must not hide this light that was given to us. Like in the Olympics, we must hold the torch of faith up high so the world can see. We must fight the good fight and finish the race so we can receive the crown that never fades (1 Timothy 6:12, 1 Corinthians 9:25).  May Jesus Christ be praised!


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