The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 07 August 2022 Wisdom 18:6-9 ><}}}*> Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 ><}}}*> Luke 12:35-40
Everybody believes in something, even if they believe in the emptiness and nothingness of life. But, what or who we believe in makes the difference because that determines how we live.
Those who believe in financial security live in amassing and building their wealth while those who believe in something that transcends what they see and understand live pursuing lofty ideals not necessarily in religious terms like the saints but also in civic and social concerns like national heroes and reformers. There are also extremists in various forms found in different countries and organizations who believe that any lasting change in life can only be achieved by armed struggles and use of violence, destroying everything even human lives they profess to be they are building or protecting.
This Sunday we find in our readings the importance of believing in God, of having faith in him because faith is not just a belief or knowledge as an interior conviction of the intellect but a union, that is, a “communion” in God we believe in.
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.Hebrews 11:1-2
It is faith that brings us into our final End in God by enabling us to “possess” already what is not yet fulfilled – eternal life! Little by little, as we live out our faith faithfully like the saints and most notably of all, Abraham as mentioned in our second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. See how the author of Hebrews reminded us of the three events in Abraham’s life when he exemplified to us his firm faith in God.
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 received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age – and Sarah herself was sterile – for he thought that the one who made the promise was trustworthy. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promise was ready to offer his only son…He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.Hebrews 11:8, 11, 17, 19
Here we find Abraham as the kind of dreamer with eyes wide opened who not only believed in God but cooperated completely to realize all his promises. He dared to journey to an unknown foreign land that he was thrice blessed by God with wealth and land his heirs would inherit. Despite his old age, he held on faith in God that his son Isaac was born who became the father of Jacob also known as Israel from whom came the twelve tribes of Israel. And when Isaac was an early adult, Abraham remained faithful to God, completely surrendering Isaac to him as a sacrifice that turned out be a test that God was so delighted with faith and declared him as the father of faith.
Everyday we hear of many stories not only of highly successful people but even of simple folks we personally know who have moved heaven and earth so to speak to achieve their dreams in life.
Yesterday after our Baccalaureate Mass at the Our Lady of Fatima University, one of the graduates texted me, accepting my invitation as their chaplain to see me at my office in the hospital for some conversations and counseling or even confession. I was so surprised when she came at exactly 2PM and turned out to be one of my former directees in Malolos City more than ten years ago.
She first came to me after delivering her baby on her third year in college in 2006 after shifting from two other courses; as a result, she never finished college and had to work when the father of her child abandoned them. Last time we met was in 2013 when she came to visit me at Radio Veritas after my program for another series of consultations when she met another man who eventually married her and five years ago, allowed her the chance to pursue a college degree in Physical Therapy. She told me how difficult it had been for her especially with the COVID-19 pandemic that she almost gave up all hopes of earning a college degree. What kept her through these years amid having two other children with her husband who joyfully accepted her and her son from her previous relationship is her deep faith in God. And that is why she was doubly happy last Friday during our Mass when she finally found me again, telling me how our spiritual direction during her dark days have made a great impact in her spiritual journey. On Monday, she graduates with her classmates at the PICC, finally earning a college degree after graduating from high school in 2003.
Many times in life, not all our days are bright and shiny. So often there are thunderstorms and dark clouds and worst, dark nights that are always the longest nights too. This is the meaning of our first reading from the Book of Wisdom that recalled the first passover and exodus from Egypt of God’s chosen people.
Faith is often asserted and tested in the dark, at nighttime when all the uncertainties and dangers are most pronounced when unknown to us, God is also most present in us. And this we shall find also as the setting of the Lord’s two parables for this Sunday.
Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem and along the way since last week, he has been teaching us the need to place our trust and security in God than in material possessions, in the importance of having faith more in God than in things.
From Qoheleth we have learned last Sunday that life is vanity if not rooted in God who is our ultimate origin and end in life so that today Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms of the need to keep that in mind through two similar parables.
Jesus said to his disciples: “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… 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 broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”Luke 12:35-37, 39-40
It is important for us to note that before this teaching, Jesus addressed the many fears of insecurity and insufficiency of his disciples, telling them to never worry of what to eat or wear, reminding them of how animals and birds as well nature are well taken cared of by God in all its splendor and glory (Lk.12:22-34).
Our main concern is to be faithful servants of God, seeing to it that we become his hands that care for others especially the sick and the needy, striving to be fair and just in our dealings with everyone, remaining focused with the kingdom of God.
That is the meaning of the vigilant servants in the first parable whom the master finds awake and alert upon returning from a wedding feast. It is Jesus Christ himself coming again in an unexpected time and date nobody knows at the end of time; those he shall find like the vigilant servants are assured of heaven where Jesus will be the one serving them!
Many times in our lives, we feel that God seems to have forgotten us, falling asleep and unaware of the sufferings we are going through. It is okay to feel that way sometimes but never let your guards down: be like the vigilant servants, faithful to God in prayers and in serving others, in trying to be kind and forgiving because Jesus is surely coming again to bring us with him in paradise and end all our pains and sufferings. Do not let your fears of losing, of not having enough paralyze you to make you selfish and conceited. How often Jesus had come to you through friends and strangers or situations offering you exactly what you needed most at the perfect time? That is like the master coming from a wedding who serves his servants who faithfully waited for his return. God can never be outdone in generosity.
On the other hand, the second parable has an interesting detail from the first one: the master of the house guarding his house against the thief of the night. Actually, the thief here is the master of the house, the one who acted as if he owned everything that he is always on guard against the real master who might come to take back everything.
That is sure to happen! We are just mere stewards of God. We own nothing in this world, even our very life. When the Lord comes at the end of time, or when our time comes to die, which attitude would we have, that of the vigilant servants excited for their master returning from a wedding or that master of the house afraid of the thief to take back what he had stolen?
The grace of this Sunday as we focus about the End we shall all face, it likewise reminds us of the end with a small “e” of our little sufferings here on earth, the setbacks and failures, mistakes and sins we have committed. They will all end; what is important is we live our faith faithfully in God through prayers and good deeds. And some dashes of perseverance, patience, courage and a lot of faith in God. Amen.
A blessed week to everyone!