Nineteenth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C
Reflecting on Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Imagine this: Abraham and Sarah had no idea where they were going when God sent them out to a land they’d never seen. In a dangerous world they set out to travel hundreds of miles in order to take possession of a land about which they’d never heard.
Why? Because they were convinced that God had instructed them to do that. After they completed that huge marathon of trust it must have become easier to believe all the other promises God had given them, even though it was impossible to imagine how any of them could ever be fulfilled.
Faith is like a muscle. You have to work at it to make it strong enough to lift you up. The author of the letter to the Hebrews was flexing the muscles of the early Christian believers by reminding them that the same God who was faithful to Abraham and Sarah will be faithful to them too.
My great friend Sr. Macrina Scott, O.S.F. reminds me that, in times of anxiety or fear, I should just remember that the same God who was faithful in the past will of course be faithful in the future. That’s easy to recall during these long, luscious summer days of peaches and corn on the cob. When the November winds blow a few months from now we’ll need to remember, once again, that faith is the evidence of things not seen.
Sharing God’s Word at Home
In what ways does remembering God’s faithfulness give you strength?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
Every time I think that our culture is doomed to the self-absorption and “anything goes” attitude of what seems to be the majority these days, I remember that Christ said that he would be with us to the end of time. The morality of our Church will not be overcome by any of those who wish to destroy a decent society by allowing all kinds of immoral behavior and self-absorbed attitudes. God is faithful and will not leave us to destroy ourselves. I am sometimes discouraged by Catholics who don’t seem to understand church teaching, but then I realize that God will save us even if there are only ten innocent people left. (Genesis 18:32) I trust God’s faithfulness to His Church.
The only things I have of any true value are #1 my faith and #2 my word. These are really all any of us have any true control over, “now there is a sobering thought.” I use to wonder how we are made in God’s image? And a thought came to me one day that God never lies, and never makes any promises He won’t keep. Then I looked at my own conduct and thought this is the great difference, I’ve promised so many things and I may even intend to keep what I have promised, but I many times I may forget or I am unabled to keep the promises I make. Then in a time when I was greatly depressed another thought came to me, God is always there and always true, people may let us down but He never does. My faith may be only the size of a mustard seed, but these things show me His great desire to have me in heaven, He knows all the things of our hearts and loves us anyway. Jesus tells us to be vigilant to the Masters coming, but I tend to forget, He is coming or I am going, either way we will meet face to face, and I really don’t want my face to be too red when we do.
Abraham too this trip “blind” in faith yet interiorly assured. Guia and I took this trip in 1972 when we fled the martial law of Dictator Marcos and got uprooted from families, friends, food, language, culture, etc… – Cris
What struck me most about the readings this weekend was this line from Hebrews, “he thought that the one who had made the promise was
trustworthy.” It seems to echo so many discussions I’ve had about the root of sin and the root of the reasons I worry. The question I have to remind myself of is, “Do I believe that God is trustworthy?” If I do (and I SAY I do), then why do I often doubt him?
Eve doubted God’s trustworthiness too. She though she new better, thought that by withholding the fruit that God was withholding goodness. So she “grabbed” instead of opening her hands to “receive.”
It is hard, especially in the modern world, to trust that we will receive the good things God has for us. Every earthly relationship we have has had some breach of trust, so it makes sense that trusting is hard to do. How foolish am I, though, that I would trust my own judgement more than God’s! Thank good ness for second, third, and . . . seventy times seven chances!
Oh you of little faith. So why do I doubt my Lord? I became a widow many years ago when my husband was killed in a car accident. We had three small sons. We had just moved to relatives for a short time. I had to find a job and a place to live. I found a job in the schools only 3 blocks from our home. Now the amazing thing is I found a three bedroom home for rent. My sons and I moved in. Our landlord was a wonderful man, because he never raised my rent in 10 years. I payed the same amount for 10 years, WOW!! Kathy your question is wonderful., I needed to remember how faithful our Lord can be. Do I believe our God is trustworthy? I say I do!
Hebrews 11 is simply one of my most favorite readings in the entire Bible.
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.” Heb 11, 1-3
The rest of Ch 11 is there to provide examples that support this point. How important this MUST be for the author to spend so much time support 3 sentences. OUR faith is a gift from God that we have hoped for and OUR faithful obedience is the evidance of our Christianity.
Cris and Sandy, thank you for sharing your stories of courage and strength. To have endured such great losses…yet to speak with such love and faith; you truly lead by example!!
What strikes me here is that faith is a muscle that you have to exercise.
Most of the time it’s easy for me to bring to mind all the things that God has done for me. I regret to say this, but sometimes I approach God with an attitude of: What have you done lately? This happens especially at those times when it seems that everyone I know is struck by some tragedy and bad news is everywhere.
One afternoon, years ago, when I was feeling that God was distant, I went to a nearby church to pray. After complaining a bit, I decided that it would be polite to mention what I was grateful for. I thought there would only be a couple of things (I was not in a good mood, I’m sorry to say.) Very quickly, I found myself naming a very long list of all the things that God had done for me, and done for me lately.
Sometimes I just have to remind myself to remember to do that.
Before I learned that there really is no answer to the question “why,” I found myself asking it through a lot of life’s situations. Not only WHY is this happening to me, but also WHY is this happening TO ME? When the light bulb finally went on, the question became “how?” How do I live through this life experience? How do I grow despite the fact that I feel like I’m at a standstill? How do I live after losing someone I love? How do I gracefully move into another career? How do I continue to trust the God whom I’ve know since I was a child, especially when the God of my childhood seems so different to the adult that I am?
Perhaps this is where I find a piece of an answer to the question about remembering God’s faithfulness giving me strength. Yes, because God was there when my father died, I knew that God would be there when I faced the grief of my mother’s death. Because God was present in sudden bouts of illness, I knew God’s healing presence when I moved through breast cancer. God was always making memory present, alive and active. Even more, God was saying, “Discover who I am in this situation. Know me as I reveal myself to you in these circumstances.”
God’s faithfulness to me lets me know who God has been. The gift allows me to experience God in a new ways beyond what I dream is possible. It gives me strength because I stop putting God “into a box” where I limit what God can do. Instead, I wait upon the wild imagination of a God who takes me to new places of faith, just like Abraham and Sarah, who left their homeland and traveled to a place unknown. Throughout Scripture, God has been faithful, even when the chosen ones have turned away. The God I know cannot be unfaithful. Believing in this God is about being in relationship, and because of our friendship, I stand in a place of strength.