NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Imitating Abraham and Sarah in Faith
God has an explicit interest in our salvation. He impatiently awaits our homecoming. Like all dutiful parents, he has a curfew in place: seventy years for the weak and eighty years for the strong (Ps.90:10). In the interest of protecting our souls, he may call us home before that time (Wis.4:7-15). Heaven is sufficiently spacious to accommodate the world (Jn.14:1-4). Yes! We are strangers and nomads in this world (Phil.3:20). Do not get too engrossed with the din and glamour of everyday life. Keep searching like Abraham and Sarah for that heavenly homeland, the city founded by God for his chosen ones (Heb.11:14-16)
Living in a world of plenty as strangers and nomads clustered by a myriad of opportunities, accessible options and quick fixed solutions, we can easily be carried away by the care of this world. We can lose sight of the divine promise. Cognizant of our own struggles with faith, the questions asked, is it still feasible to be authentic witnesses of faith? Can we really keep a steady path to our eternal home? Hum! Yes! Yes, we can! However, it takes great self-will to become another Abraham and Sarah or to be dutiful, devout, worthy men and women in today’s world. How will we succeed?
Unless we recognise, value, and appreciate our identity as children of God, our true and eternal home is in heaven, we will never be aware we are certainly strangers and nomads in this world – the time is short. It is always against us. What must we do? Firstly must acknowledge God as Father. Secondly, we must have the sincere desire to be holy and perfect as he is; thirdly we must be prepared to defuse the clusters that are obstructing the vision of our entire anima (Latin: mind, soul and spirit) to embrace our vocation and mission as Abraham and Sarah did. We must fully take a preferential option for holiness and perfection as our daily pursuit.
Faith, holiness and perfection make sense only when we understand we are in reality the children of God – we are reflections of his glory, not his disdain. God made us to be his spitting image and likeness. Our first parents distorted that image. However, God made us his adopted children in Christ on the day of our baptism. In Christ Jesus, he commissioned us to be perfect as he is perfect (Matt.5:48).
Our baptismal promise is our oath. Our parents and godparents collectively lent us their voice when we were infants. When we come of age, on our own volition, when we renew this pledge, we promised to do the following: to grow in holiness, perfection and devotion. To be conscious of our mission to destroy courageously the enemies of the kingdom, to act with vengeance on the foes of the kingdom; finally, to offer sacrifice to God; to chant the praises of our fathers in honour of our God who took vengeance on our foes and made us glorious by calling us to himself (Wis.18:6-9).
This is still possible in a world of conflicting interests, and descending voices in matters of faith, holiness, and righteousness, justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. The author of Hebrews gives us noble examples in Abraham and Sarah on how we can overcome the obstacles and obstructions that might hinder our path to the call of faith and holiness. The author expects us to emulate our father and mother in faith.
Christ Jesus, for his part, in Luke 12:32-48 takes cognizance of our struggles as strangers and nomads. He understands our weariness and its consequence. For this reason, he cautions us: despite your weariness: be alert. Be vigilant. Do not let down our guards. Never grow despondent. Do not be complacent. Be faithful to the end and he will reward us as he did with Abraham and Sarah.
Lord the road is long and the trials are difficult but with you at my side, I am a victor. My faith is my strength.