Thirty-third Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C
Reflecting on Luke 21: 5-19
My friend Joanie was the first of my friends to have a baby, way back in the early 1970s. I still remember how shocked I was that she was ignoring all the signs of the times―the recent famine in Biafra, the war in Vietnam, the oil embargo, the Palestinian terror attack at the Munich Olympics, the eruption of Mt. Etna.
How could she possibly think about having a family when Jesus’ prophecy about the last days was clearly being acted out on the world stage? Wars, famines, terrorism, volcanos. Surely things could never get worse. Also, hadn’t she read the very same reading assignments I had at school? The world would run out of clean water and air by the time we were in our forties.
But as the years went by, something even more shocking happened. All of my friends started having families! I was stunned at their hopefulness, their faith-driven optimism that God is the God of the living, and their vocation was to bring life forward.
And that’s what finally compelled me to learn how to read Scripture. Of course. Luke’s Gospel today is timeless, and Jesus was absolutely right. In every age there will be all those dreadful things. And in every age, Jesus is Lord of all who hope in him.
Sharing God’s Word at Home:
In what ways do you experience a tension between faith and fear?
What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
Making choices has never been easy for me, I dread the thought of making the wrong one and the impact that a wrong one will have on those I love, myself and the world. That was one way I dropped away from the Faith, I was so afraid that I start going to physics. Wow what a dreadful mistake that was. It opened the door to so many other things that tore at my belief in God.Until that wonderful voice of God said “Faith”! He asked me why I had faith in strange teachings and not in His love for me? The fact is in this life we will suffer some more then others. and there are great troubled wars and illnesses and abusiveness And through it all we can find one constant comfort “HE, THE FATHER AND Maker OF ALL THAT IS SEEN AND UNSEEN” will work the greatest miracles in the roughest of times. It’s okay to live life and enjoy it and He really doesn’t mind when we make complete and seemingly hopeless mistake. Because He is God and He has got it all under control. Becky
Someone close to me was at an event last month for a family friend who is celebrating 25 years in religious life. One of the priests asked her if she goes to church, and she replied that she had walked out during a homily a couple years ago and never returned because she doesn’t want her children to be taught certain prejudices and an unthinking, legalistic morality. She was making a stand for the belief that our Catholic faith insists it is God who will judge, that each of us are called to make grown-up judgments based on an informed conscience, and that any who love God and who try to live in accordance with the values of the gospel are welcome at the table. But that brave stand has cost her inclusion in the very life of the Church.
And in a real way, she did it partly for my sake.
This is the nexus where my faith and fear meet. What if someone (me) is hesitant to approach the table unless an integral part of the self is hidden or silenced, even if conscience says I am justified? What does that say, if anything, about the gospel or the Church (or about my understanding of either)? How does a particular parish or minister mediate the all-encompassing love of the Trinity balanced against the call to daily holiness? And is it even fair to expect that they should? Add to all of this a deep and expansive love of the scriptures and of the church’s liturgy, a lived experience of the kind of parish community that can only have been instituted by the Spirit, and an irrevocable affirmation that I am Catholic to the core of my being. I guess what I’m really asking is whether I can have faith and a church. And if not, which is more important to me? I am still praying for an answer to that question, but I want to believe Kathy’s beautiful, inspired reflection: Jesus is Lord of all who hope in him. And still I will hope in him; I will hope in him who saves me.
Thanks Michael Carlos for making me reflect and pray.
Kathy’s hope set me on the right path. Personally between faith and church, I lean more on faith because the church (in the sense of institution, hierarchy, judicial governance, etc.) can walk away from the Gospel. Example: Maciel who founded the Legionnaires of Christ proven to be corrupt and guilty of sexual abuse. What about church as the people? – – that would be another issue. Many times in my life, the resolution of an issue comes not with the mathematical evaluation of the pros and cons side of the debate – – with the bottom line crystal clearly indicating the conclusion. Many times, the process is spiritually intuitive, through the whisper of the Spirit. – – Cris
“Jesus is the Lord of all who hope in him” I believe this with all my heart.
I also have to say that I would have to lean on my faith, as Cris stated above.
I attended the Bible Conference this summer and heard a great talk by Thomas Smith on “The God who bends to bless us” reflecting on the Gospel of John. Jesus, who loves us beyond comprehension, bends to bless. Using the story of the woman caught in adultry, Jesus bending to write in the sand. Jesus, bending to wash the feet of his disciples, (even the feet of Judas). Jesus, bending over to a charcoal fire to feed the Apostles after his resurrection. I mention this because I believe Jesus would not want us to exclude anyone from his table. He bends to heal, reconcile & restore. Michael Carlos, God Bless you, you always inspire me!
Jesus, you are the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and … “the Lord of all who home in him”
If you have faith, there is nothing to fear.
In some ways faith and fear seem like polar opposites. I keep asking myself, “Is it possible that I can feel both at the same time?” But I do sometimes. There’s a war going on inside me when I don’t want to surrender to the God who reaches out to me and says, “Come….Fall into my waiting arms. I will catch you. Have no fear. “ Sigh….And I’m afraid, even terrified.
For me, faith is not just believing a list of creedal doctrines. Fear seems like the opposite of faith, even though one might think doubt is. Doubts can sometimes surface; questions can linger; and it’s okay. Perhaps it’s because faith is about the relationship God has with me and my response to this God who longs for me. It’s because I know God who is so patient with me that I can have faith. When I am aware of this relationship, my fear dissipates.
When I was a child, I believed what I learned in Catholic school and at Mass. I believed what my parents and family accepted as true. But then at some point, believing the catechism answers that I had in my head or what was “beyond reason” wasn’t enough. “Who are you, God? Reveal yourself to me,” became my prayer. And when it did, God gave me glimpses of a God that we don’t always talk about. This is not a God I can put into a little box and think I know or understand. Instead, this God is wild, untamable, uncontrollable, unconquerable, unlimited, dangerous. It’s not easy knowing this God because then I have to really let go and tread where I don’t want to walk or serve. Then I’m afraid because I have to release the imaginary security I hang on to for dear life. I have to reach out and clasp the hand of God who is there like a trapeze artist waiting to catch me. This is the God who transforms me and teaches me that I am loved and cherished, not because of what I do but because God is God the Lover and God the Cherisher. Is this not scary? Is it not too much? Is it not beyond what the mind can contain? Ah, but it’s only when my soul says yes that I can be free of fear and rely on the One who is beyond my thoughts. And then I just know…. Perhaps not necessarily in my head, since I don’t always have clarity and expression for what I know, but deep in my soul where there is no room for fear.