Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today Sunday’s reading begins with a wonderful definition of faith: faith is the confident assurance concerning what we hope for and the conviction about the things we do not see. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews was not just talking about dogma, definitions of various items in our belief system; he was talking about lifestyle. The lives of people of faith reflect their whole value system, their whole system of life[1].

Although theologians might distinguish between faith and morality, although certain public personages might perform abominable actions yet still love to be photographed leaving a Church, faith and morality are not separate entities. They can not be separated one from the other. If we are honest with ourselves, we can see this reflected in our own lives. When we grow closer to the Lord, when we attend a retreat or a liturgy that moves us to reaffirm our faith, then we tend to avoid letting anything into our lives that is contrary to that faith. On the other hand, when we give in to temptations, we tend to justify it by doubting that God really cares about us or about how well or how poorly we are reflecting his presence in the world.

The people to whom the Letter to the Hebrews was addressed were floundering in their faith. They had lost their initial fervor. They were threatened by persecution. Following of Christ was becoming all too much for them. They had to give up much of the pagan lifestyle that their neighbors enjoyed. So the author tells them that if they really have faith, they will grow closer to God through their Christian lifestyle. But they had to believe. They could not give up.

My brother, my sister, we have to believe. We cannot give up. It is so easy for us to choose actions that do not reflect our faith and then claim that God really is not concerned with what we have done. When we do this we are denying that we have a personal relationship with God. For if we think that God is not concerned about our every action, then we are saying that God is not personally concerned with us.

Oyu know, sometimes we create a god in our minds that thinks it is quite all right for us to behave immorally. Sometimes we don’t believe in any god other than some Barney figure our minds create who will sing “I love you and you love me,” for all eternity. Sometimes we do not see the contradiction between the faith we profess and the life we lead. We are all inclined to do this.

And you know, God is not a purple dinosaur. He is not Barney. He is not a creation of our minds. He is the real spiritual Father who calls us to love him, to serve him, to make his life real in the world, and to live in integrity. We do not have several facets of our spiritual lives. We do not have faith over here and morality over there. We are whole. We are one. We must be people of a living faith.

We believe that God formed each of us for a unique mission.  We may not know what this exact mission is yet, but we have faith that the God who gave us this call will help us carry out his will.  He has a reason for our existence. We can only live meaningful lives by allowing him to lead us to complete his rationale for creating us

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris