Readings: Wisdom18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48
Today’s Gospel ends with the verse: Much will be required of the person entrusted with much and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more. I don’t think I want to speak about that Gospel text today. I would rather we look at the section from the Epistle to the Hebrews which we heard as our Second Reading.
But I would like to ask prayers in a special way of all of you today, for our community this Wednesday, as we elect a new abbot to govern and shepherd our monastery. After eighteen years of myself, it will be a significant even for each of us. Thank you for thinking of us on Wednesday. August 10 is the feast of the martyr St. Lawrence who suffered for Christ on a gridiron. I think of St. Lawrence as a special patron of abbots.
The Second Reading today is from the eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews, an inspired composition on the history of the Jewish people, as God prepared them through the centuries for the coming of the world’s savior from their midst.
In today’s reading, the author of the epistle is referring to the patriarch Abraham who is known as the spiritual father of all believers–Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all who hold to God in their lives. Abraham underwent severe trials of faith and proved himself faithful. He was honored for his fidelity by being called by the title, the friend of God. His history is related in the Book of Genesis. It is profitable to read the entire life of Abraham and to reflect on his unswerving fidelity to God. There is much matter for prayer here for each of our lives and in national and worldwide experiences today. Jesus himself said of Abraham, Before Abraham came to be, I am. Faith is what unites us all in God.
Faith is hard for us. We want to be in control of our lives–for our wellbeing and security, for our families and loved ones. Things happen in life that are not of our control. We are tempted to lose our faith in God.; we feel helpless and alone. So did Abraham. So did Martha when her brother Lazarus had died and Jesus was not there. Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. So did the Mother of Jesus when she watched him die on the cross. Everyone suffers loss. Everyone experiences the temptation to lose faith in God–it’s a natural feeling.
Will I respond like Abraham and be faithful? Will I act like Martha and declare my faith in God’s providence? Will I be like the Mother of Jesus and say, I am the servant of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word?
Faith is often referred to as “blind faith” because we don’t see the results. The Letter to the Hebrews calls faith the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Another translation reads: Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see. As long as everything is going well for us, faith is comfortable. In great loss, faith is no longer easy.
Abraham is called the father of faith. He believed, he trusted when there was no human reason to trust, to believe. In spite of every natural evidence, we hold that God is working his purpose for our good. Faith is an act of will. It is not what we want. If we put our faith in God, accepting our loss like Abraham, like Martha, like the Mother of Jesus, we are faithful. We are the children of Abraham. As the desperate man in the Gospel prayed, Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.
Saint Paul proclaimed, There are three things that last, faith hope and love, and the greatest of these is love. And one of our abbots in the middle of the twelfth century wrote, If you follow the guidance of faith, you will not go astray, in the light of faith itself you will be able to see God. But then he goes on to say, Does this mean that it is only in faith that God is seen? Is he not seen in charity? Indeed, he is seen in charity–and even more in charity than in faith.