Wow! There’s an awful lot going on in today’s scripture readings. Collectively they touch on faith, trust, alms giving, spiritual vigilance, stewardship, penance and the burdens of responsibility. I had to re-read those passages three times just to sort out where to start.
As I read-through the Letter to the Hebrews I was reminded of a comment once made by Mark Twain. He was listening to a wealthy industrialist who was speaking to his friends about faith. At one point the man said: “Before I die I want to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, climb to the top of Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments out loud.” Upon hearing this statement Twain openly replied, “Why don’t you just stay home and keep them?”
Mark Twain’s comment reinforces what we heard in today’s readings. Said another way, when it comes to faith, our actions need to speak louder than our words. Think about that for a moment. How often do we profess our faith at Mass and then not really know what we must do to live our faith after we leave church?
Jesus makes it clear that Faith is active, not passive. Real faith is more than just making a public profession. It demands that we show God and others what we believe by how we live our lives.
Just what type of actions are we talking about? Well, if you listened closely to the readings you heard that faith embodies trust in God, hope, believing in things that we cannot see, preparing our self for the time when we will meet Our Lord face-to-face, and being responsible for the welfare of our brothers and sisters.
Abraham, in today’s second reading, is the perfect example of faith in action. Without knowing exactly what he would find as he followed the inspiration of God, Abraham left his home in journey to a foreign land. He had no idea of what was ahead of him, yet he believed that God was trustworthy, and so he did what his faith asked of him.
The greatest test of Abraham’s faith came when God asked him to sacrifice the very child who was to fulfill the promise of descendants too numerous to count. Abraham’s trust in God confirms that faith is indeed the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
Jesus tells us to have faith in God and trust what our faith asks of us: To believe what we read in Sacred Scripture, to teach what we believe to others, and to practice what we teach. That means consciously living our faith, day-in and day-out, teaching it to others, starting with our family and friends. But we can’t stop there.
We live in a world of unthinkable insecurity. Millions of people have been uprooted by war, famine, natural disasters, poverty and disease. Many of those people have nowhere to go. Who or what will sustain their faith? Vast populations languish under the rule of oppressive governments or terroristic regimes. How will they be led to freedom? What keeps their hope alive?
The Gospel provides us with answers to those questions. The reign of God in his kingdom here on Earth has been entrusted to each of us as the stewards placed in charge of God’s household. Our Lord makes it clear that we are the stewards of faith.
It’s impossible for us to pass-on the inheritance of our faith to the next generation if we don’t actively live it and share it with those around us right now. We are the ones called to provide shelter for the homeless, comfort and consolation to the afflicted, and freedom to the oppressed. Jesus wants our faith to be the active sign of his presence in the world today. That will only happen if we live what we know and believe.
And that, my friends, leaves us with a lot of good questions for us to think about as we leave Mass today. Questions like: What is it that I truly believe? Why do I believe it? Do I live that belief each day? Is it clear to me and others what I value and treasure in life? And, am I willing to share the richness of my faith with those around me?
How we respond to our call to faith lets everyone know where our treasure is.
Mark Twain’s challenge to the industrialist certainly applies to us today. We don’t need to stand on the top of a mountain to profess our faith.
We just need to live it.
God Bless You,