In the pledge of allegiance to the flag of our nation, we claim to be “a nation under God”; yet it would seem that the light of Christ has not been kept burning brightly by the majority of the people and leaders of our nation. The sorry fact is that if we are truly honest with ourselves in looking into the very depths of our souls, we will probably have to admit that the light of Christ given to us at Baptism is slowly beginning to flicker and dim, and like the society in which we live, we are becoming more enticed by our pagan society rather than by the light of our Faith in Jesus Christ and in the Church. We have become so sophisticated that we even question the basic teachings of our faith.
The readings of today’s Mass call us to faith. The Lord speaks to us through the letter of St. Paul and tells us: “because of Faith, the men and women of the Old Testament era were approved by God.”
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us: “Do not live in fear”! He is telling us to have a deep faith in Him and in the Church that He established and there will be no need for fear! Faith is a free gift from God. It is like a pearl of great price or a treasured coin; it’s like a Christmas gift that, being unwrapped, reads on the box: “Assembly required and batteries not included.” Faith is not merely a gift received; it is also a gift that requires effort to expand and make it work. It must be cared for, otherwise, it will deteriorate – it needs care and attention or it will become wild and deteriorate.
To believe in Jesus does not mean that we are automatically saved right here and now!. To believe in Jesus means that a person is on the way to being saved, not that we have arrived. Faith is the free decision to accept and believe the teachings of Jesus Christ and of His Church, and to live our lives accordingly.
Today Jesus calls us through the readings to a deeper faith, a total faith. He does not say to us: “I offer you a variety of truths, and you may pick and choose as you like.” He invites us to a strong vibrant faith in unchanging truths – truths which do not and cannot change; truths that are handed down to us from Jesus to His apostles and to their successors in an uninterrupted line of succession from generation to generation through the successors of St. Peter.
As the Second reading on today’s Mass indicates, Abraham and Sarah were not religious pickers and choosers. They accepted what seemed to be one impossible statement from God after another and some were difficult: pack up and leave your homeland and sacrifice your only son. Abraham and Sarah trusted in God and they were led to greatness. We are called to that same kind of faith. We are called to the realization that our lives are short and that we are created and destined to live with the Lord forever. We are called today to 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.
We might not have time to prepare: thus Jesus regularly stressed the necessity of continued perseverance in the Faith. we must be like the steward in the Gospel today, who Jesus says must always be ready to receive the Master. Faith must express itself in deeds at all times.
Henry Cardinal Newman once stated that watching for Christ is the unique sign of a Christian – it is a quality of Faith that sets him apart from all the other people in the world. Watching for Christ 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. He will come to us like rain – like the spring rain that waters the earth.”