Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Faith and Hope

Nineteenth Ordinary Sunday Year C

People are frightened of so many things. We are frightened of taking risks. We are frightened of the unknown. We are frightened of hostile and aggressive people. We are frightened that something bad may happen to us or to our family. We are frightened that the economic situation will take a turn for the worse. Fears reinforce our sense of insecurity. Fears make us unwilling to take risks. Fear cripples us and prevents us from growing and moving forward.

Today’s readings remind us that we Christians are people of faith and hope. Faith and hope isn’t just about reciting prayers and coming to Church. Faith and hope means placing our trust in God knowing that he cares for us and will not allow us to be harmed. This, however, does not mean that God will shield us from all troubles or problems. What it means is that God will not allow us to be overcome by our problems and that He will help us to grow stronger in our faith as a result of these obstacles in life. In other words, faith and hope is based on love. To love is to take risks. To love is to place our trust in the other person. To love is to persevere in our commitment even when faced with obstacles and problems. Therefore, faith and hope isn’t about knowing our catechism or reciting prayers. It is about love.

In the second reading, we are told that “only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.” The Letter to the Hebrews continue to praise both Abraham and Sarah for their faith. It was by faith that Abraham was prepared to set forth from his home town and make a long journey to a strange land. Faith allowed him to take risks. It was by faith and hope, that he was able to believe in the promises of God, especially in the promise that he would have a son even in his old age and that God will bless him with many generations. We too are challenged to follow the examples of Abraham and Sarah. Unless we placed our hope and trust in God, unless we are prepared to take risks, we will never allow God’s blessings to be realized in our lives. It is true that sometimes it takes a long while before we see results. It is also true that there are many things which we will not be able to see even during our lifetime. That is faith – “only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.”

Faith, however, is not a license for irresponsibility. Faith calls for action. Faith calls for preparation. Faith calls for us to be ready at all times. In the gospel, Jesus gives us the parable of the servants who are always ready for their master’s return. “Happy those servants whom the master finds awake, when he comes.” Faith and hope calls for watchfulness. It is the foolish man who goes through life thinking that there will always be time to do what he needs to do in life. It is responsible to think that I have tomorrow, or next month or next year to do what I need to do today. We will never know when God will call us back to him. We will never know when our last breath would be. Everyone does not know the day when they will die. Therefore, we need to be always ready.

Our response to death should not be characterized by fear. That is not God’s intention. But our response to death as well as to life is this: we must be ever watchful to God’s coming into our lives. Let us pray that God will find us ready and awake when he comes. Let us face our fears, our worries and the uncertainties of the future with Christian faith and hope. Let us joyfully “take courage” and be witnesses of Christ to the world.

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