The virtue of faith in ordinary life – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Be alert: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”

Central Idea: God will do what he has promised. Doctrine: The theological virtue of faith. Practical Application:Recognizing God in the ordinary

To view the Lectionary 117 readings, click here.

Reading 1 Wis 18:6-9

The night of the passover was known beforehand to our fathers,
that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith,
they might have courage.
Your people awaited the salvation of the just
and the destruction of their foes.
For when you punished our adversaries,
in this you glorified us whom you had summoned.
For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice
and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.

  • The Passover was the night on which God both punished the oppressors of the Chosen People and freed and glorified his own “holy children.”
  • We too, the Chosen People of God in Christ, await our salvation, but we do not look forward to the destruction of our foes, except in the perfect sense that we pray for the destruction of whatever makes them enemies of God. We pray for the same thing for ourselves.
  • Just as “the holy children of the good” offered the Paschal Lamb in secret, putting into effect what God had instituted, we the People of God offer our own sacrifices with the priest who offers again Christ’s Paschal Mystery, instituted by God in the Holy Eucharist.
  • In secret we, the holy children of God in Christ, are constantly offering the sacrifice of our lives by doing God’s will rather than whatever seems good to us at the moment. Usually this sacrifice involves very ordinary things, like choosing what we look at, think about, say, and do.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.

  • Today, the nation whose God is the LORD is not any territory of people. It is all the People of God, those who by God’s grace and their own choice are united to the Blessed Trinity through Christ’s body, his Church. It is those visibly in the Catholic Church, all our separated brothers and sisters in baptism, and all those known to God alone who have upright hearts and who cooperate with his hidden graces.
  • Some of us visibly and others in secret are “holy children of the good” and are “offering sacrifice and putting into effect . . . the divine institution,” as the Book of Wisdom put it.
  • All of us on earth “await” the salvation of our bodies and souls which has begun but which will only be completed after this earthly life.

Reading 2 Heb 11:1-2, 8-19

Brothers and sisters:
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 Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate,
even though he was past the normal age
—and Sarah herself was sterile—
for he thought that the one who had made the promise was
trustworthy.
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead,
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

All these died in faith.
They did not receive what had been promised
but saw it and greeted it from afar
and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth,
for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come,
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac,
and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son,
of whom it was said,
“Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.”
He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead,
and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

  • Abraham is our father in faith because he believed that the promises God made to him would be fulfilled.
  • Abraham “thought that the one who made the promise was trustworthy” and he was right to, for God can neither be deceived nor deceive us.
  • The fulfillment of God’s promises lies in the future. Faith makes these promises affect our today.
  • God’s promises to us are greater than his promises to Abraham. God promised Abraham a land and a people descended from him. God promises us salvation in this life, transformation in his image in this life, and eternal life with him in heaven.
  • We trust that God is already giving us, and will finally fully give us, what he has pledged.

Alleluia Mt 24:42a, 44

Stay awake and be ready!
For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

  • There is a constant fear that the end of the world is coming soon. One symptom of this is the spate of apocalyptic films that have been produced in the last twenty years.
  • But for certain, the end of each one of our worlds, that is, our lives, is coming, and we don’t know when that will be, only that it will be, so we must prepare.

Gospel Lk 12:32-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your belongings and give alms.
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,
an inexhaustible treasure in heaven
that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

  • We will meet Christ. This will occur either at Christ’s second coming, if we are alive then, or at the moment of our death, which we cannot foresee.
  • We must be prepared for this meeting.
  • Christ is giving us good news here. He is saying this returning master is very happy, like one returning home from a wedding, so happy that he will do the unimaginable, which is to serve his servants. On our part, we don’t want to do anything to disturb our master’s happiness by being “asleep” or unprepared.
  • Christ is warning us that he will return, and we should welcome this warning, just as if we would be glad to know that a thief is coming at a certain time in the night so we can be prepared.
  • To “gird your loins” means to tie up your long, loose fitting lower garments so you are prepared for physical work or even for battle. We are at work now building Christ’s kingdom and battling evil, especially in ourselves. If we are doing these things, we are ready to meet Christ at every moment. Just washing some dishes, because it is our present duty, is being ready.
  • Being ready certainly means to remain in a state of grace, meaning to be free of mortal sin, and to return to a state of grace immediately through the Sacrament of Reconciliation if we should fail.
  • Prompted by Peter’s question, Our Lord elaborates on the duties of anyone in authority, especially those in authority in his Church, like Peter. There is no doubt that the world has been filled with people in authority who only serve themselves. This is true at times in the Church, as Our Lord warned. Such servants will be rewarded or punished according to their merits.

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Doctrine: The Theological Virtue of Faith

  • The theological virtue of faith is “The infused theological virtue whereby a person is enabled to ‘believe that what God has revealed is true—not because its intrinsic truth is seen with the rational light of reason—but because of the authority of God who reveals it, of God who can neither deceive nor be deceived’” (First Vatican Council, Denzinger 3008).[1]
  • This faith is “theological” because it comes from God and it leads us to God.
  • It is a gift God infuses in us (or gives us) at baptism.
  • This gift is a “virtue” or stable disposition, so that we can always hold firm to the truths of Divine Revelation as long as we want to.
  • It “enables us” to believe but does not force us. On our part, we willing assent or agree with what God reveals.
  • What is it we believe? We believe “what God has revealed.” We believe in the person of Jesus Christ and all he did and taught. This revelation is preserved in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture and is entrusted in the Magisterium of the Church to be safeguarded. A summary of revelation is found in the Creed we say at Mass. More full-blown statements are found in catechisms, like the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  • Why do we believe it? “[N]ot because its intrinsic truth is seen with the rational light of reason—but because of the authority of God who reveals it.”
    • Some of the content of Divine Revelation can be seen with the light of reason but we may never see this ourselves because we are not smart enough or able to commit the time necessary.
    • Some of it will only ever be partly understandable because it goes beyond the resources of reason, like how there can be three persons in one God.
  • To make the act of faith, we also need to have sufficient reasons to believe God is really revealing this.
  • We can readily assent to something God reveals once we are confident the revelation comes from him because he is both all good and all knowing. Because God is good he will not deceive us. Because he is omniscient he cannot be wrong.

Practical Application: Recognizing God in the ordinary

  • In his homily Friends of God, St. Josemaria Escriva reminded his listeners that “we are travellers, journeying to our home in Heaven, our Father’s land.”
  • He warned us that the biggest obstacle along the way could be routine, “in imagining that God cannot be here, in the things of each instant, because they are so simple and ordinary!” How many of us are looking for extraordinary signs of God’s love or power in our lives or for extraordinary tasks God wants us to do.
  • Josemaria gives the example of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus when Jesus joins them the day of the Resurrection. St. Josemaria comments, “Lord, how great you are, in everything! But you move me even more when you come down to our level, to follow us and to seek us in the hustle and bustle of each day.” In reality, God just wants us to attend to the task or person right in front of us.
  • Josemaria ends this thought, “Lord, grant us a childlike spirit, pure eyes and a clear head so that we may recognize you when you come without any outward sign of your glory.”[2]
  • The secret to living out the theological virtue of faith is to see that the here and now is the place and time in which God wants us to meet him and to serve him. It is not in the past, which is over. It is not the future, which we can only imagine and so is not real.
  • The person in the state of grace who washes the dishes well, because it is his job, and who offers this work to God for the sake of his neighbor, is living out the virtue of faith and is prepared to meet Christ.

[1] From Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, retrieved from http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33508

[2] http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/friends_of_god-point-313.htm

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