19th Sun [C] 2010

Fr. Charles Irvin


Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2,8-19; Luke 12:32-48

 

Today’s scripture readings put the question to us: What does the future hold in store for us? What awaits us when we die? Is what’s in front of us determined by what we did or didn’t do in this life? These are the big questions we face today and in all of the days of our lives.

 

Jesus talked with His disciples (and we are His disciples) about the future, telling them they were to face it not with fear but with hope and in a spirit of positive expectancy. He spoke to them in terms of making investments, investments in their future. “Sell what you have,” He told them, and buy into the sort of retirement plan I am offering you, a never-failing treasure with my Father and with me in heaven. For, He said, “…wherever your treasure lies, there you heart will be.” Stated the other way around he’s telling us: “Wherever your heart is, there will your treasure be found.”

 

But how can we live in a world and with a future that is not yet? Only by living it in faith. St. Paul tells us “Faith is the confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.” It is counter-cultural to live that way. The world tells us not to have faith in anything, to accept only what you can touch, taste, smell, measure and control. Suspend your beliefs and don’t accept anything else. What we can control is the big issue as far as this secular world is concerned.

 

But can anyone really live that way? Can an atheist live that way? Well… no! People with no religion at all are forced to live by faith. They cannot claim they have no need of faith. You cannot enter into marriage and not live in faith. You cannot tell someone that you really love them unless you first have faith in them. You cannot have faith in someone unless and until you ready to tell them that you love them.

 

You cannot buy a sound system in a store and not have faith in what you’ve bought. You cannot step onto an airplane and not have faith, faith in the engineers who designed it, faith in the ground crews who perform maintenance on it, and faith in the pilot and co-pilot who fly that airplane under the direction of the ground controllers who keep order in the flight paths of the planes placed in their responsibilities. You cannot drive on our highways without having faith in the competence of the drivers of those vehicles you will either meet or pass. You can’t buy groceries without having faith in those who both produced the food and those who have marketed it for you. You cannot live and not have faith.

 

Faith is not something that belongs only to religion — it belongs to everyday living. Each and every day we take risks and act on probabilities. Hardly ever do we act on certainties. We take risks in depending upon the decisions of others, never knowing with certainty what the outcomes will be. Even scientists operate on theories, the Theory of Evolution being just one of them. Rarely does science give us proofs, proofs that last.

 

Our greatest leaders have presented us with leadership based on faith. It was faith that motivated George Washington and the founders of our nation. Our Declaration of Independence is a document based on faith. Abraham Lincoln led us through one of the darkest nights in our nation’s history basing his vision solely on faith. If you read writings of Abraham Lincoln, you will find yourself reading some of the most faith-filled thoughts you will ever encounter. It was Lincoln who said to the American people: “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty.”

 

What I am saying is that to live out life on this tiny little speck in the cosmos, this little blue dot in the Milky Way, is to live in faith, to live in a wondrous adventure. To graduate from school having chosen a career and to enter into it with all your heart and all your wit is one of life’s greater acts of faith. To get married and have children is a profound act of faith. To enter each day that God gives us with hope and expectancy that we will do good and make the world a little bit better for those around us is a tremendous act of faith. And to die, going forth from this life without knowing exactly where we are going except into the hands of God, is our ultimate act of faith. Everywhere throughout life people live in the confident assurance that what they hope for will one day come to be. Every day we live with convictions about things that are not yet seen. Heaven is to find what we believed in here in this life.

 

To be realistic, however, we must pay attention to the fact that a good deal of our recent history attacks our faith. We have been betrayed and betrayed often by people in our lives, people that we trusted, all of which erodes our basic need to believe in others. Life is unfair and bad things do happen to good people. And yes, many people are unreliable. But, for all that’s wrong in life, in our world, and in others, we cannot afford to give up, stop believing, and lose faith. Jesus knew that back then and He knows that right now, which is why Christ presents Himself to us in the Bread of Life. He comes to us, after all, in faith, placing Himself in Holy Communion in our hands with the belief in His heart that we will accept Him in love, and with a firm purpose to live as He would have us live.

 

Yes, this world belongs to God. And yes, God has given us the dignity and the responsibility of working with Him to bring the world to completion, to wholeness, and to that unity in which He made it to exist, and us in it, in the first place. For God, you see, has made a tremendous act of faith in you. God believes in you enough to give you the freedom to choose His love, the freedom to choose to accomplish His work, the freedom to do good. For God, you see, finds it necessary to love us and to live in His faith in us.

 

How comforting it is to know that others have faith in us. How tremendously comforting it is to know that God Himself trusts us, has high hopes for us, and believes in us. What a fantastic honor it is to realize that when we receive Holy Communion, God our Father believes in us enough to put His only begotten Son into our hands. Faith is forever an adventure in living, an adventure in which God Himself lives and wants to share with us. 

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”