To become attentive of God’s presence

August 11, 2019 – 19thSunday in Ordinary Time

From the Book of Wisdom (18:6-9)

The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers,
 that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith,
 they might have courage.
 Your people awaited the salvation of the just
 and the destruction of their foes.
 For when you punished our adversaries,
 in this you glorified us whom you had summoned.
 For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice
 and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.

From the Letter to the Hebrews (11:1-2,8-12)

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen. 
Because of it the ancients were well attested.

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 sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God. 
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 had made the promise was
trustworthy.
 So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead,
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

From the Gospel of Luke (12:32-48) 

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 the servants recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. 
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants. 
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 be broken into. 
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”

Homily

Do you have dogs at home? Are you also aware on how your dogs would react whenever you come home? Once the dogs are left at home they can be anxious without the presence of their humans. Yet, dogs display patience and attention to wait for their humans to return home. Their attentiveness allows them to be more conscious of their surroundings. And when our dogs would sense our coming and smell our presence even at a distance, they begin to get excited. Dogs would wiggle their tails as a sign of excitement. And when they finally see us, they would make terrible sounds as their expression of joy, or lick us, jump on us and run around us. This shows us how our dogs can be intimately connected with us.

Moreover, the attentiveness of our dogs of our presence has something to teach us this Sunday.

The first reading from the Book of Wisdom tells us how the people patiently waited and hoped the coming of the Lord. They had been suffering for many years from the Egyptians. Their children were massacred, properties confiscated, and made slaves until their death.

We could imagine their fears and anxieties and the feeling of being abandoned by God. But through the presence of Moses, the people realized God’s presence among them. God’s promise was to be fulfilled after all. As a result, we were told how the people prepared themselves for the Lord’s coming to free them from that suffering. As a community, they became much more attentive to God’s presence.

In the same way, the second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews allows us to recall the attitude of our grandfathers in the faith particularly of Abraham. Abraham was indeed a man who put his trust and faith completely to God. Abraham left the comfort of his family and friends, to journey to a land that God promised to him. 

Surely, Abraham also felt anxiety and insecurity as he journeyed with God especially when God gave him Isaac and later demanded that Abraham should sacrifice his son. That was Abraham’s most vulnerable moment in his life. Yet, he realized too that everything he had were all from God. With that, he was grateful to God. That gratefulness made his faith even stronger, despite the pain of sacrificing his son. Indeed, he allowed God to surprise him and to unfold God’s plan by completely trusting the wisdom of God.

The surprise was to receive Isaac back and to become our father in faith today. His close relationship with God allowed him too to go beyond his fears and anxieties making him more attentive to God’s presence and invitations.

This is what Jesus taught to his disciples. Jesus reminds us to grow in our attentiveness of his presence. The parable is an affirmation to a person who consciously makes himself/herself attuned to God’s presence. It is when we are attuned to God’s presence that we also become aware of the presence of other people around us. As a result, this makes our faith active and alive by being able to give life.

However, the parable is also a warning to those who have become mediocre or complacent and procrastinator. These are attitudes of a person who is not attentive of God’s presence and has taken advantage the gifts given by the Lord and therefore, is only concerned of himself/herself. This person would become the most insecure person, most anxious and at the same time most vicious and abusive of others.

Hence, a mediocre or complacent person is only contented in doing things below his/her potentials. It means that we do not really give the best in us but settle to what is only lesser and comfortable for us.

Thus, when we become so caught up with our comforts but then refusing to go beyond by giving ourselves for others, by letting go of our grudges and hate, and by actively opposing the evils and unjust systems in the community, then, we have surely grown to become mediocre and complacent. We do not want to be challenged. We do not want to go beyond from ourselves and to give our full potentials for God and for others. We only give what is small and minimal. This is a life that refuses to recognize God’s presence and invitations.

Moreover, a person who procrastinates loves to delay things like in making decisions and actions. This person does not see the need to respond because he/she is caught up with his/her own mood. Consequently, when we procrastinate towards our faith, we feel bored, empty, and lifeless and so we see no reason at all to become life-giving. 

What is common with these attitudes is the fear to take risks. Remember, trusting God and believing in Him requires risks. Faith is a risk as what the Hebrew people showed in waiting for God to free them and for Abraham to journey outside his comfort and in sacrificing Isaac. Yet, it is in taking risks that God makes wonder in us. It is in taking risks that we grow in our consciousness of God’ presence in our life. And it is also in taking risks that we grow deeper in our relationships.

Our dogs who patiently await for our coming every time we leave home, put their trust on us and so have taken the risk to trust us in providing them an emotional assurance. Hopefully, we too in our journey with God will grow in our attentiveness of God’s presence by taking the risk in believing in him and trusting God’s wisdom by avoiding from our tendency to become mediocre and complacent and procrastinator in our faith. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR

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A Dose of God Today

A-Dose-of-God-Today : Your Daily Spiritual Nourishment, tries to put into words the thoughts and experiences of the wonder of life through the Holy Scriptures and the many invitations of God today.

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