It strikes me that the three readings for this weekend give us a powerful image of not only early Christian living but one that we can depend on to this day.
The first passage that jumped out is found in the aptly titled “The Book of Wisdom.” We are let in on a secret: “the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice.” In religious houses, in parishes, not just Catholics, but all over the world, God’s faithful are quietly, unpretentiously, without fanfare offering prayer and good deeds on behalf of all God’s people. The author of the Book of Wisdom promises us thus: they are putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.
Paul reminds the Hebrews (and us) in tomorrow’s 2nd reading: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for, and evidence of things not seen. Here again we are reminded of quiet, unseen, out-of-the-limelight evidence of the “divine institution.” Paul was referring to the folks traipsing through the desert ages before. They must have had waves of hopelessness bolstered by waves of hope. We are reassured by the hopeful words of Paul when he says to us: “They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar.” … Margaret Wheatley in her book TURNING TO ONE ANOTHER describes hope this way: “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.”
How fitting it is that our community intention this week is that “all peoples of the world will be people of peace.” May they, and all of us, live in hope confident that however things turn out, it makes sense in God’s plan. Our daily stance must be words of the Gospel Acclamation: “Stay awake and be ready.”
The church offers the choice of dividing the Gospel passage into two sections. It is the part that may be omitted that tells us: “Much will be required of persons entrusted with much.” Luke couched that grim reminder with Jesus’ comforting words to his disciples: “Do not be afraid.” We have been entrusted with so much, individually and collectively, that the words about the reciprocal demand could frighten us into inaction. Our fears could make us feel that our feeble attempts to bring about peace and compassion and reconciliation are futile. But we have the assurance of Jesus: Do not be afraid, for your Father is PLEASED to give you the kingdom. God is more than willing – God is PLEASED to give us the kingdom. Thus, we must take delight in receiving all that the kingdom has to offer. Do not be afraid but do be prepared. Stay awake! Be prepared to see and greet the kingdom from afar. Do not be afraid.
I will close with an excerpt of Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Speech.
(Mandela’s words could be a homily in itself.)
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
successful, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us,
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
~by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB
First Reading Wisdom 18:6-9 Second Reading Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Gospel Reading Luke 12:32-48