Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (2022)
Psalms 31:1, 12, 18-22
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Our gospel today is not unlike last weekend’s gospel which proclaimed to those who built bigger barns to store excess wealth: “You fool, this night will be demanded of you; and the things (overflowing barns) you have prepared, to whom will they belong? Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
In familiar sounding discourse, this week’s gospel reminds His disciples that, “where your treasure is, there also will your heart be,” for they must always “be prepared, for at an hour you [they] do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” It is not unlike the message of last weekend’s gospel. Why should we be surprised to see Jesus’ consistent teaching on all things repeated throughout the four gospels?
What is slightly different this weekend, is the emphasis, clearly intended by the compilers of the lectionary [the book from which we read at each and every Mass], by our gospel’s connection with the second reading from Hebrews, a connection that seldom happens.
Our passage starts out with the beautiful, simple, yet erudite, definition of faith: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” The writer of Hebrews [not Paul], acknowledges the Hebrew forefathers whose faith was “attested” to by God. There is no better example for the good Jew of a person who lived by faith, than the figure of Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, and, while decided from ages past, He did not even begin to fulfill that promise until Abraham was “as good as dead,” and his wife appeared to be sterile. Abraham is viewed as one who never gave up hope, who put his trust in a loving God, following Him through desert after desert, living in tent after tent. From Abraham would come “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.” Abraham puts not his hope in earthly things, but hopes in a God who is trustworthy. It matters not that he has the comfort of even “bigger barns.” It matters not, that the father of faith, Abraham, will die with that faith as his comfort, never receiving or seeing “what had been promised,” but could only “see it and greet it from afar.” Abraham, Hebrews tells us, desired “a better homeland, a heavenly” homeland, and he was “prepared” for whatever God had in store for him and his progeny.
Abraham is an example of the one spoken of in the gospel who is vigilant and prepared. At the end of his life, Abraham was doing what was necessary to enter his heavenly homeland, a homeland he could only realize in faith. He would never see the full realization of what was promised him, “descendants numerous as the stars,” but he did not let down his guard and fall victim to the attractions of this world.
We too “must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” to ask for an accounting of our lives. To be prepared should not involve any big changes to our lives, for we should be living our lives in constant readiness for God’s ultimate visitation when we can surrender to God the good, the bad, and the ugly, with a confidence and faith that we have done our best. God provides us with the help we need (Eucharist, prayer, etc.) to be ready and prepared, for God wants all of us to succeed, and be happy with Him for all eternity.