Thursday, August 8, 2013

Homily 19th Sunday of Year C: Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily 19th Sunday of Year C: Michael U. Udoekpo
 Readings: Wisdom 18:6-9; Ps 33:1,12,18-19,20-22; Heb 11:1-2.8-9 and Luke 12:32-48

Faith is Living in Active Hope what the Lord has Promise us

In the past two Sundays, Jesus taught us how to pray and how not to be greedy, or get attached to material things. Today he teaches us that faith and hope are connected. Faith and hope are in love with each other. And this faith is the supernatural gift which enables us to actively hope for all the good things God has promised us in this life and in the life to come.

Abraham’s case in Genesis 12 quoted by the preacher of the Letter to the Hebrews 11 is a clear example. Faith, the preacher stresses, “Is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Even though we have not seen, a graceful conviction to be able to say like our Mother Mary, "Lord be it done to be me according to your words," (Luke 1:38) or with the Doubting Thomas, "My Lord and My God," ( John 20:28).

Called by God to leave his own land and travel to an unknown and unseen destination, the Promised Land, Abraham did without questioning God. Imagine the difficulties of leaving the comfort of your room and home to a strange land. All that Abraham had was his faith in God. He had no traveling insurance or health plan, except faith in God and in his divine promises, that God would bless him, and grant him the Promised Land as well as multiply his descendants.

While on the journey Abraham had his own share of difficulties, as all of us do. He had trouble with his Nephew Lot, you would recall. He was confronted by kings like Abimelech, who threatened to snatch Sarah away from Abraham. Abraham was faced with Family disputes, external threats, and meanwhile Sarah his wife was barren! In fact the barrenness of Sarah was as an experience no woman in the ancient culture would love to have or recommend for her loved ones.

 The question then is ,If Sarah was barren and without a child, how would the promised of the multiplication of descendant promised Abraham by God be fulfilled? The answer is through faith and hope. Abraham put everything in the baskets of faith and hope. We know in the rest of the story that because of his faith and trust in God Abraham was blessed with children including Isaac, father to Esau and Jacob, who was also, blessed with many children- the 12 tribes of Israel, our great- great grand parents in faith, whom God saw through slavery and through the horrible experiences of the wilderness (cf. Exodus).

Acknowledging this  kindness  from the Lord the Psalmist sings:
“See the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine…” (Ps 33).

Faith is God’s grace bestowed upon us to actively hope for God’s kindness, to appreciate his love, to rely on his mercy and to always plead for his forgiveness. I deliberately use the phrase " actively hope for," here because in today’s gospel Jesus reminds us  that we should always strive to make good use of our time, to always prepare, to always hope, to always keep doing good things, good works. We don’t want to be like that lazy and hypocritical servant who gets lazy when the master is gone. When the master returns the servant is not ready. He is caught un-prepared, not ready. Jesus condemns this servant because this servant does not seem to be ready. He is lazy and negligence.

Faith is not negligence of our prayer life. Faith is not in-action. Faith is not inactivity, but activity, good works- charity, forgiveness, visit to the sick, holding that door of elevator for that fragile senior and for our neighbors. I know there are sometimes  when Jesus seems not to be present. We feel our prayers which Jesus taught us two Sundays ago have not been heard. We feel this way sometimes during tragedies, death and sufferings and frustrations! We feel this way when the Church is embarrassed by the clergy sexual abuse. We feel this way when terrorism, poverty, wars and anti-Christian faith sentiments have not been eradicated overnight from our society.  That's alright! Job and Habakkuk once felt that way!  But I can assure you Jesus; Our Lord is ever divinely present in our midst! He might seem delayed as the master in today’s gospel! And while  it  may seem that way, hope and watchfulness is the answer, rather than misbehavior or getting drunk like the bad steward in the gospel of reading.

We are to constantly do good things, forgive; love, share, reach-out, as if today were to be our last day on earth. There is a story of three young college students been asked what they would do if it was suddenly announced in the loudspeaker that they had only 24 hours to live. The first, said he would run home to greet and hug his parents. The second said, she would rush home to have her last lunch with apple pie desert served with ice cream. While still, the third said he will keep on doing what he was doing. This response is very close to the response of St. Francis while tilling the farm was asked what he will do if the world was coming to an end now. Francis, we are told said, he will keep on tilling the farm.

This (third) response seems to be very close to what the Lord expects of us. What does Jesus expects of us? Like in the case of Abraham, Jesus is calling us not only to be faithful, and actively hopeful that we shall receive all  that God has promised us, but to be vigilant and consistent in acts of peace, communion, unity-promotion, love and charity to one another. This is our faith. This is our hope.