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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 7, 2016


Traducir al Español


            A priest pulled into the gas station and found every pump was in use and several cars were waiting to be next.  He pulled in to be third in line and stepped out of his car to stretch his legs.  The man waiting in the car ahead of him was also standing outside his car.  “Labor Day weekend,” he called to the priest.  “Everybody waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”  “I know,” the priest replied.  “It’s the same in my business.”


          The challenge put before us today is whether or not we live as faithful servants in God’s kingdom.  In regards to Jesus’ second coming being delayed or not, his disciples were and are to remain ready to welcome.  No extraordinary measures need to be taken; simply doing what one has been called to do and doing that to the best of one’s ability is sufficient.  Every task, every little job, every good word, every kind deed – all of these are the Lord at work in us, preparing us, enabling us to prepare for his coming – now and finally.  Blessed is that servant whom the master finds ready – busily waiting.  If we give in to discouragement, then we will become passive – at a loss as to how to hasten his coming.  The heart that is merely waiting will find a thousand excuses; the heart that is truly waiting will find a thousand ways!


          “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you’re the kingdom.”  This is wonderful encouragement, but how do we “fear not?”  How do we end fear, or at least bring it under control?  To find a solution, we turn to the reading from Hebrews, where we are told:  “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  In other words, faith is an antidote to fear.  And believe me, the believers addressed by that letter were profoundly discouraged.  Between Roman persecutions and Jewish campaigns to convert them back to their original beliefs, things were going badly for these early Christians.  In light of their losses, what were they to do?  They were to have faith…not faith that things would work out as they wanted, but faith that, in Jesus’ victory over sin and death, they would one day experience what they couldn’t yet see – that their eternal life had already been won.  They just had to hold on and believe!


Consider for a moment how fear arises in these respects.  We think poorly of ourselves, put ourselves down, refuse to acknowledge our abilities, judge ourselves primarily by what others think, and deny ourselves forgiveness for our mistakes. Self-esteem takes a constant beating; feeling we are bad and poorly equipped for life, we set ourselves up for fear and failure.  Or we think about the world: what an awful place it is, how much bad news there always is, how jumpy the economy remains, how dishonest and mean other people can be – and we are predictably fearful.  What is at the heart of our fears? Failure? Loneliness?  Not being able to provide for our family? Rejection? Not fitting in?  Death itself?


          Faith however, switches our perspectives.  Faith is a way of seeing.  Faith allows us to look at things from a divine viewpoint and focuses our thinking according to the teaching of Jesus who assures us that, as members of the “kingdom,” we have nothing to fear.  Faith doesn’t see things blindly, or unreasonably, it is true vision from an elevated point of view.  With faith, we see ourselves as miraculous beings, intelligent, resourceful and more than equipped by a loving God to meet our destiny in life, or any challenge life might throw our way.  The world certainly has it’s problems, but it is still a beautiful place, with wonderful opportunities, and populated with significant numbers of caring and loving people.  Is this perspective any less reasonable, or less authentic, than the negative outlook of fearful people? 


          If faith is our greatest treasure, then love and peace flow freely from our hearts and lives.  If our treasure is something else, then we won’t find true peace there!