Attentive To God’s Presence

August 7, 2020 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080722.cfm)

Who among you here 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 to our presence has something to teach us on this 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

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

We could imagine their fears and anxieties, as well as 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 who shall free them from that suffering. As a community, they became 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.

Certainly, 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 gratitude 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 to go beyond his fears and anxieties by making him more attentive to God’s presence and invitations.

This is what Jesus taught to his disciples in today’s Gospel of Luke. Jesus reminds us to grow in our attentiveness of his presence. The parable in the Gospel is an affirmation to a person who consciously makes himself/herself familiar 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, complacent and procrastinator. These are attitudes of a person who is not attentive to God’s presence and has taken advantage the gifts given by the Lord. Therefore, the person is only concerned of himself/herself. This person would become the most insecure, most anxious and at the same time can also be the most vicious and abusive to 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 we settle to what is only lesser and comfortable for us.

Thus, when we become so caught up with our comforts but then we refuse to go beyond by giving ourselves for others, when we refuse to let go of our grudges and hatred, and when we refuse to actively oppose 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 because we do not what to make a stand. 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. However, 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 in our faith, we feel bored, we feel empty, and we feel 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 to take risks as what the Hebrew people showed in waiting for God to free them and for Abraham to journey outside his comforts and in sacrificing Isaac. Yet, it is in taking risks that God makes wonders through us and 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 to God’s presence by taking the risk in believing in him and trusting God’s wisdom by avoiding from our tendency to become mediocre, complacent and procrastinator in our Christian faith. Kabay pa.

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