This is the 19th week in Ordinary Time. The central theme of today’s readings is the necessity for trusting faith in God’s promises and vigilant preparedness for the final coming of the Lord.
The first reading, taken from the book of Wisdom, was written about a century before Christ was born. The purpose of the book was to bolster the faith of the Chosen People living in a world indifferent, and sometimes hostile to their beliefs. A favorite theme of the writer is that the providence of God has protected the Chosen People throughout their history, especially during the time of their enslavement in Egypt and during their Exodus to freedom through the wilderness and to the Promised Land under Moses. We, too, live in a similar environment, and the reading reminds us that God will not abandon us if we trust in Him. Trust in the Lord, and He will protect you.
In the second reading, Paul defines faith as: “The realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” As in our first reading, Paul was trying to bolster the Faith of the Jewish Christians by appealing to the example of their ancestors who had believed in promises yet to be fulfilled. The chief example of strong Faith is found in their patriarch Abraham, a wealthy but childless pagan living in Ur of the Chaldees. Abraham heard the voice of God summoning him and his family to go to an unknown land where God promised to grant him many descendants. By sheer faith, Abraham left his homeland and accepted God’s promise that his descendants would form a great nation. Abraham’s faith was so great that he was even willing to sacrifice his son Isaac at God’s command. Despite many obstacles, Abraham remained obedient to God because, “he thought that the One Who had made the promise was trustworthy.”
In the Gospel, Jesus challenges His disciples to trust the Father’s promise to give them eternal happiness in His kingdom. However, He warned them to be prepared at all times, because the Son of Man will come at an unexpected hour, either at the moment of their death or at the end of the world. The good news is that He will come; we just don’t know when. Therefore, using the master-thief parable, Jesus warns us to be on our guard so that the thief may not steal our treasure of Divine Grace by his temptations. The parable, therefore, warns us that we always need to be on guard to do the will of God, by loving God and one another.
We always need to be ready to welcome the Lord. One of the best ways of remaining alert is prayer. In Matthew 26 Jesus says: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation,” and Paul tells us to pray always. Prayer keeps us closer to God and enables us to build a personal relationship with Him. The second way of preparing for the coming of the Lord is doing His will at all times. This means rendering humble service to others, caring for one another, the poor and the lonely.
We know and believe that the Lord will come one day, but don’t know when. In chapter 24 of the book of Matthew Jesus says, “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” The comforting message is that the Lord will come, and when He comes, He will reward our acts of kindness, whether big or small. He will reward the righteous with eternal life: “Now enter into the home of my father” (Matthew 25:21). The question is, how do we prepare for the coming of the Lord? We are blessed with so many opportunities to prepare and grow in faith. Let us use the God–given opportunities, especially the Sacraments, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist, to strengthen our Faith.
I am pleased to let you know that my cousin, the Rev. Lenin Raj, who is a priest from the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, India, has been accepted for admission to the University of San Diego to earn his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies. He will be with us during the month of August before moving to St. Therese as a resident priest. Let us welcome Fr. Lenin, and please say hello to him when you see him. On Wednesday, August 15th we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a holy day of obligation. In order to make it easy and convenient we will have two Masses that day, 8:00 am and 7:00 pm. Please plan on attending one of these Masses to celebrate this important Feast Day.