Oct 1, 2016

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Knowing our place - Appreciating our vocation


The Gospel we have listened to today asks us if we have faith in God? Do you have faith in Jesus? Well, “Yes!” you might say. “That’s the reason I am here at Mass”.


For many of us, we are here because it is our custom, we have a sacred sense of religious obligation to be here every Sunday - it is weaved into our spiritual sense to keep the Lord’s Day holy and the obligation to give thanks for the blessings of God, manifested through the life, death and resurrection of Christ.


But maybe, that’s not a full answer to the question, “Do you have faith?” Sometimes, we mistake faith for our good works, even though they may be inspired by God’s grace. So, what then is faith, in itself?


Does faith come from my heart, giving me a feeling of the closeness of God? But what when I experience pain, loss, disillusionment - when I feel that God is distant?  Does it come from my mind, giving me a sense that my life can only have meaning from within a particular belief system? What, when I encounter hypocrites beside me and even in front of me and it doesn't make sense?  Maybe, faith is not ultimately about where your heart is, or how you understand it.  


To illustrate this point, yesterday I baptised a number of babies.  Their understanding of the world around them is for now upside down, just shapes and colors.  Their emotions are for the most part, instinctual - reactions based on the stimuli of feet being tickled, funny noises being made, particular flavors of food being tested for the first time.


But these babies are now baptised, fully Christian, members of the Church of God. From the first moment of conception, God had given them, as he give each of us, the gift of faith - the size of a mustard seed.  And inside that seed is all the unique spiritual DNA needed, a road map, if unfolded carefully during life, will lead the way to God, through all the challenges and distractions along the way.  


So what is faith? In this light, faith is the discovery that you are a unique part of God’s divine plan - that my life is not an accident, and by the same token, my life is not mine to determine on my own terms how it should unfold. Like the servant in the parable, I am doing only what I am obliged to do.


So, rather than trying to blaze my own path that will eventually in time be trampled down to dust to become nothing, the gift of faith compels me, throughout my life, to discover that only God understands and rejoices in the road he as already mapped out for me, even though it is not always clear from my own perspective, or even in tune with my own particular expectations.

As as an encouragement to us to discover shaper tools, to help us appreciate what meaning God has given to each of our lives, but also as a help to our young men in particular to discern if priesthood could be God’s plan for them in particular, I am asking that one of our two local visiting seminarians might briefly address us.

He Ascended into Heaven

Not so long ago, I had the opportunity, a privilege, to offer the graveside prayers at our Catholic cemetery in San Diego. Founded in 19...