Faith in God leads to total self surrender to doing the will of God which transforms one’s life and brings us to eternal bliss.
In the first reading of today we shall see that our ancestors in faith believed in God’s promise which will lead us to reflect on the faith of Abraham as recounted in the letter to the Hebrews. It is because of faith that Abraham’s life was transformed and he was rewarded with land and children. We the new children of Abraham, through faith in Jesus Christ, are urged not to fear, for God shall give us an everlasting kingdom.
We continue to read from one of the Sapiential books of the Bible: Wisdom 18: 6-9. Here we see that our ancestors in faith had true faith in the promise of God; that they shall be given a land they would call home: they would have freedom from slavery; free to worship the God they believed in the way their ancestors handed down to them; they would be secured in the land they call their own. Their faith in God served as basis for their hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise. They looked forward to seeing the glory of God and the defeat of all forces that hindered them from achieving this goal. We need this strong faith in God so that we keep our eyes on what lies ahead of us rather than succumb to passing distractions.
Of all our ancestors in faith, let us single out Abraham: his faith in God; how this transformed his life, and that he was rewarded for his faith in God. We turn to the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews (11: 1-2, 8-19). I am a bit taken aback by the opening words of the second reading: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is presented here as beating time and space. It enables us stretch our logic to conclusions that are not acceptable if we follow the rules of any logical argument. In such a case, we are wrapped in realities that make no sense to the simple mind of the religious philosopher. It is faith that makes people ‘live’ more than twenty years ahead of their contemporaries; sometimes we may say that such people are born twenty years before their time. Let us apply this to Abraham.
Abraham believed in God. He obeyed God to leave his homeland and set out for an unknown Promised Land. Doing this at that time looked queer or weird. He lived in tents among people he did not know and they were not of his kind. Strange was this Abraham who was ready to offer his only son as sacrifice to God. His faith was rewarded by this old man, Abraham, begetting a child in his old age and at a time when his wife had long passed the age of bearing children. Yes, God rewarded Abraham with land and children as he was promised. Since Abraham is our ancestor in faith, we pray that God may strengthen our little faith. Let us move unto the gospel (Luke 12:32-48) and see what is in store for us.
When I read this part of the gospel according to Luke, I remembered a famous hymn we sang at St. Paul’s Seminary in Gbarnga, Liberia: “Fear not little flock, your father wants to give you a kingdom, for where your treasure is, there also is your heart.” Belief in God who keeps his promise will see you sell your belongings and giving the proceeds to the poor. It will lead first to seeking the kingdom of God and its eternal riches. This faith will keep you constantly conscious of God’s presence in your lives and spur you to doing the will of God day in day out. Like the good servants you shall be found at your employment when the master returns. Reward shall be given to you and punishment to those who fail to live out the will of God. The gospel reminds you that “to whom much is given, more will be demanded.” Since we are gifted differently, we should not expect uniformity in our response to God’s gift and call of faith.
Praise the Lord, now and forever.