Sunday, August 1, 2010

Convinced of Things Not Seen

Reflections on the Readings

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 8, 2010, Year C

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

By Dennis S. Hankins

Readings For This Sunday

Convinced of Things Not Seen

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

"It's good not to be forgotten!"

That's what my 92 year old friend, Warren Evans told me when I called him last week.  I remember when he and his family came to town.  For a long time we did not know the hero side of this man who lived among us.  He fought in WWII, and was a member of the elite Darby's Rangers.  Convicted of being a spy, Warren's third attempt to escape his German prisoner of war camp succeeded just days before his scheduled execution of April 22, 1945.

Warren lived and survived to return to his family and friends, sustained by the strength and courage of his faith; embracing the assurance and conviction that God is the author of each new day and of the reunion he longed for.

Jesus ascended into heaven about 2,000 years ago. Early Christians anticipated our Lord's return within their lifetime.  Today's readings remind those earliest followers of Christ and us to be watchful; our loins girded and our lamps burning, like those waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast. It is at his return that our Lord will invite us to sit at table as he serves us in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  We must always be ready, for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour. 

How long will it be before Jesus returns?  With each celebration of the Eucharist we anticipate the coming of the Lord.  As for when the Lord will return, we like Abraham look forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  In the meantime, we walk by faith, faith in the promises of God, faith that the exodus for the new Israel is as sure as it was for Moses and the first Israel. 

In our earthly pilgrimage we embrace the world differently than some.  We are a people of a heavenly country and yet citizens of the country of our birth.  This world, however, is not our home, is not our final destination.  We do not live with a spirit of laziness however, but with the conviction that to whom much is given, much is expected.  We build hospitals, care for the living and the dying, stand in prayer between bad laws and the unborn those laws condemn to death; accepting as if it is Jesus who is sick, or dying, or about to be born.

Between here and there, now and then, we live by the assurance of our faith. Each day we live hoping for divine approval, and  discerning that the world is sustained by the very word of God who created it; all of creation revealing the nearness of the maker of all things.  

Today we accept the challenge to be filled with faith; faith that our Lord is near us in the Eucharist, near us in the things we do in his name and near us in our watching for his return.  This faith enables each of us to live in the assurance of things hoped for, in the conviction of things unseen and those things not seen yet.  

This week Jesus will look down on his faithful who pray without ceasing, or who are feeding someone who is hungry, or making a newcomer to the Parish really welcomed.  Kingdom things, things the Church has been doing ever since the Lord made us stewards of his grace.

And looking down upon us as we go about doing what He asks us to do, and trusting in Him and loving him though we've never seen him, I imagine he's saying to himself something like...

"It's good not to be forgotten!"



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