12 August,2007, XIX Sunday of the Year

Wis 18:6-9; Heb 11:1-2,8-19; Lk 12:32-48

 

Freedom from fear is the fruit of Faith

In Baptism something tremendous happens to us. We become God’s precious possession-God’s very own sons and daughters, members of Christ’s Body, Temple of the Holy Spirit and the dwelling place of the Holy Trinity. By our baptismal consecration we become holy, sacred, not because of any merit of our own, but as a pure, undeserved, unearned gift of God. That is grace.

 

It is this grace that has to take hold of us more as we advance in our Christian life. Our whole life as Christians has to be a continuous living out of our baptismal consecration. We have to grow in the awareness of being sons and daughters of God. God’s very own. God’s precious possession, loved, cherished, valued and jealously guarded. “You are precious in my eyes and I love you” (Is 43.4). Those words of God said to Jesus in the Jordan are also for each one of us: “You are my son. You are my daughter- My only beloved one. In you I am well pleased” When we grow in this awareness, when we realize that we belong to God, when we are convinced that we are the objects of God’s infinite, unconditional and personal love, then we become, confident and courageous, and we hold on to the absolute certainty that we are not alone, that God is with us, that God takes us and watches over us. God holds us by the hand and guides us along the way. This conviction: “I am not alone. The Lord is with me” is faith.

 

Faith is more than belief, more than intellectual assent to a body of truths. Faith is a personal relationship of love and trust. Faith is the absolute trust in God because of God’s infinite goodness, God’s unlimited generosity, God’s unreserved love, God’s unfailing power and God’s ocean-like mercy. When we have such a personal experience of such a God, when we believe in such a God, when we place all our trust in such a God, all our fears vanish, troubled hearts are stilled and our lives become songs of praise and thanksgiving. Then indeed we dare to take risks like Abraham, we dare to hope like Sarah and we are ready to make huge sacrifices of Isaac. We do not feel out of place anywhere, because we are at home with God to whom we belong, and God is everywhere.

 

It is this sense of belonging to God, of being God’s precious possession, of being at home with God that makes us feel secure and unafraid, full of peace and free from anxiety. “Do not worry. Do not be anxious. Your Father in Heaven takes care of you as He takes care of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.” This is the source of our courage and strength. It is this that makes Christ’s words ring true in our hearts: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased the Father to give you the Kingdom.” What is this Kingdom? It is not a place, or a system, or a structure or an ideology. The Kingdom is an experience- an experience of God’s absolute love, care, compassion and mercy. When we have this experience we become calm and secure, courageous and confident, trusting and daring. Ready to sell our possessions, ready to share our wealth, ready to spend ourselves in service, ready to work for the poor, because we have a treasure more precious than gold; a treasure which no thief can steal and no moth can destroy. Our treasure is our faith. Our treasure is God.

 

Truly then we can sing with the psalmist: “Happy are those, whose God is the Lord, the people God has chosen to be his own”. God looks after those who worship God, those who hope in God’s love. God becomes their hope and their shield.

 

We live in uncertain times. Fears and anxieties, doubts and insecurities, natural disasters and deliberately caused disturbances, wars and conflicts, terrorist attacks and communal conflagrations assail us from all sides. People are afraid of strangers, of ghosts, of robbers and of security forces. These are fears and anxieties caused by factors outside of us. These are also those arising from deep within us. Some of these are realistic and genuine. Many others are pathological and traumatic. Whatever be the origin and nature of these fears, it is important for us to listen to Jesus who says: “There is no need to be afraid because my Father will take care of you because my Father loves you”.

 

Therefore we can truly make the Opening Prayer of today’s liturgy our own and say: “Father, your Spirit has made us your children, confident to call you Father. Increase your Spirit within us. Touch our hearts. Touch our lives. Help us to grow in the life you give us and make us living signs of your love for all people”.

2 Responses to “12 August,2007, XIX Sunday of the Year”

  1. Bob Slattery s.j. Says:

    MANY thanks for the inspiring notes on the readings of 12 August. Sorry I only s aw them now. They could have helped my sermon in the parish this morning.
    Bob Slattery .s.j.

  2. Godwin Serrao SJ Says:

    Good sermon Fr Eugene.

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