We of the twenty-first century are the most advanced people that the world has ever known. We can put men and women in space shuttles orbiting the earth and build space stations; We can put men on the moon. We can communicate instantly with people all over the world. We can grow food in lush fields which formerly were deserted. We have the ability to conquer terrible diseases with vaccinations, and repair clogged vessels in a human heart with stints.
Yet in our society, we ofter live under a cloud of fear. All of us at one time or another have experienced fear: The fear of getting in trouble for something we have or have not done. The fear of contacting some dreaded disease like cancer. The fear of being attacked or killed by a terrorist. The fear of what other people might think of. The fear of failure. The fear of suffering and death.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us: “DO NOT BE AFRAID ANY LONGER!” He is not talking about the ordinary fears that all of us experience from time – to – time: we will never escape the ordinary dangers of this life. Jesus is talking about having FAITH in Him. The sad fact is – that if we are truly honest with ourselves, we probably have to admit that the light of Christ given to us at Baptism has flickered and dimed a bit. We become more enticed by what our society has to offer, rather than by what Jesus Christ and in His Church has offered us. We have become so theologically sophisticated that we even question some of the basic teachings of our faith.
The readings of today’s Mass call us to Faith. St. Paul reminds us of the Faith of Abraham. Abraham obeyed the call of God. He traveled to a new and unknown land. He and his wife Sarah had a son despite the fact that they were very old. He was willing to sacrifice his only son Isaac – if that was what God wanted him to do.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us: “Do not be afraid any longer”! He is telling us that if we strive to have faith in Him, there is no need for fear! Faith is a free gift from God. Jesus said – It is like a pearl of great price or a treasured coin; but it’s also like a gift which reads on the box: “Assembly required and batteries not included.” Faith requires effort to expand and make it work: Faith must be cared for – otherwise, it will disintegrate.
To have Faith in Jesus Christ does not mean that we are automatically saved right here and now because we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior!. To have Faith in Jesus means that we are on the way to Salvation – not that we have arrived. We must constantly try to unite our lives more deeply to the life of Jesus. Faith is the free decision to accept and believe ALL of the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church, and to live our lives accordingly.
At this Mass, Jesus calls us through the readings to a deeper and total Faith. He doesn’t say “I offer you a variety of truths, and you may pick and choose as you like.” He invites us to a strong vibrant faith accepting and living unchanging truths which have been given to the Church by Jesus Himself and handed down to us unchanged through the successors of St. Peter – to FRANCIS.
As the Second reading in today’s Mass indicates, Abraham and Sarah were not smorgasbord believers. They accepted what seemed to be one impossible statement from God after another; – some were difficult: pack up and leave your homeland to sacrifice your only son.
Abraham and Sarah trusted in God, and they were led to greatness. We are called to the same kind of faith that Abraham and Sarah had – especially now with our relationship to Pope Francis now that our church has been elevated to the rank of Basilica. We are called to the realization that our lives are short and that we have been are created and are destined to live with the Lord in the House of our Father.
We are reminded today that we must realize that the day or night is coming – when we least expect it – and it will be our turn to face the Lord in death and judgment. If we don’t have strong faith now, we won’t have it then.
We always need to be prepared like the servant in the gospel who was waiting for his Master to return! Watching for Christ is the unique sign of a Christian – it is to have our minds fixed in the future and our memory fixed on what Jesus has suffered for our salvation. The Old Testament Prophet Hosea tells us: “Let us know: let us strive to know the Lord: For as certain as the dawn is His coming, and His judgment shines like the light of day.”