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God's Word on Sunday: Faith is what makes salvation possible

  • July 31, 2022

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Aug. 7 (Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48)

Time is a precious gift. How we use our time is an essential part of our spiritual life. Some people merely wait for events to overtake them with little thought to preparation or learning life lessons along the way.

In fact, tumultuous events seldom occur randomly or without warning — we merely fail to recognize and heed the signs along the way.

The Israelites had been enslaved for 400 years in Egypt, but the hour of their deliverance was fast approaching. But the people had not been idle, for they were aware of what was about to happen. They used the time to prepare themselves, worshipping together as a people and following the divine law as they understood it at the time. The faith and trust that they had shown towards God was fulfilled in the redemption that was at hand.

True faith is never empty or useless but is the invisible force that strengthens us and draws us ever onward. Having prepared themselves in this way, they were able to respond appropriately to the events of their liberation as they unfolded.

We can also use the time in which we live, filled with such uncertainty, fear and negativity — to our advantage. This is a time to seek spiritually and from the heart. It is this and our personal relationship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus that will be our guide and our strength.

In the gloom of the darkest night or a raging storm, many aircraft must fly solely on instruments. This involves skill on the part of the pilot and trust that these instruments will operate properly. In a similar way, believers often are unable to see the road before them and therefore must fly by an instrument called faith. Hebrews tells us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen. Unseen, but very real to the believer, for faith is another mode of knowing beyond our usual senses. It is how we envision God’s future — we live tomorrow’s reality today. It seems like foolishness, naiveté and irresponsibility to many of the more worldly-wise. And yet that is what kept all of the key individuals in the Old Testament going — they were able to sense God’s future and a greater homeland than the one they had left.

People who live by faith are not backward-looking people, dwelling in the past, but always on the move towards the homeland that has been prepared for them. It requires patience, especially when situations seem hopeless or it appears that nothing is happening. Patience and faith are what make salvation possible for each one of us and ultimately for the whole world.

Believers in the first few decades of the first century were convinced that Jesus was going to return very soon. Their spirituality manifested this conviction as they strove to be as prepared as possible by maintaining purity and living in the Spirit. But as time ticked by and Jesus had not returned, fervour cooled and laxity set in. After all, there was plenty of time, was there not?

That is the assumption of most people today and many even doubt that the Lord will come again. Luke assures us that we do not have much time at all. When Jesus returns, it will be sudden and unexpected. For many, His return will come in the form of our own death, when our earthly sojourn comes to an end. In either case, the Lord should find us living as He taught us and focused on compassionate and kind words and deeds.

In answer to a query by Peter, Jesus followed with a rather scary parable about the slave who misused the delay of his master’s return for self-indulgence, corruption and cruelty to others in his charge. Needless to say, it did not go well for the slave when his master returned.

These parables and warnings should not frighten us but make us aware of God’s gift of time given so that we can progress spiritually and serve God’s kingdom. We should live each day as if it were our last, not in an anxious or morbid way but gratefully and determined to use it to its utmost.