19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C.
I was reading in the news the other week that scientists from CalTech University have recently discovered 6 galaxies that are 13.2 Billion years old. This makes these the oldest galaxies discovered to date, and they formed some 500 million years after the theoretical Big Bang that caused the creation of the Universe.
[[PAPER BAG PUNCH LINE - blow up and pop a paper bag]]
The answer is no. Science is by definition the study of measurable things. God is by definition infinite – which is to say that he is not measurable, and so God is not a subject of physics, but of theology.
But science is struggling to understand is how did the universe come to be. There are various theories, One is that this universe was created from the collapse of the last universe, and that came from the one before that… But there must have been a point in time where there was nothing, and out of that point came everything. Scientists call this the “Big Bang”, and it is reasonable to conclude that there is a creator that created all of the stuff of the universe, and we call that uncreated creator God.
All knowledge is rooted in the Truth, and Truth is truth for all peoples for all time every where. It is the position of the Church that Faith and Reason are help-mates, both as mechanisms for coming to know the Truth, and while they need there own separation to function they should not be set against one another.
Reason is knowing the Truth by analytical thought – such as knowing the creator of the universe.
St. Paul says that Faith is the knowledge of things unseen – knowledge of what is not measurable. Faith is knowing that something is True because it is revealed to us by God. One of the things that we know as truth by Faith is that God created the universe.
In today’s letter to the Hebrews St. Paul reflects on the beauty of the faith of Abraham. When St. Paul talks about Faith he is discussing how Abraham knew God, he knew the Truth, and the profound effect it had not only on his life but on our lives as well, as Abraham is the Father of all the Faithful. The Church gives us this reflection today so that we can reflect on the state of our own faith lives.
What is our Faith like today? - The Two Kinds of Faith
There are two forms of faith amongst Baptized Christians today – Dead Faith and Living Faith.
By Dead faith I mean a Faith that is dormant, not lived out, or lived out in a minimal way. Faith that defines a neat and tidy box around God. Dead Faith has a tendency to minimize our relationship with God. When we live a life of dead faith, the Church becomes just another institution, and set of rules that must be followed. Dead faith ultimately kills us. Dead Faith is alive and well in our world today, because the second largest group of baptized Christians in the United States today are ex-Catholics.
Lest we look at ourselves as better than them, we need to repent, to change. Many ex-Catholics are ex-Catholic because of the example of faith given to them by us, the practicing Catholics – They suffer from a dead faith because our mostly dead faith has killed off theirs.
Good News for Dead (and Mostly Dead) Faith Christians.
Jesus came to heal the sick, to cure sinners and to lead us from Death to Life. This was his entire mission here on earth, to lead women and men into a relationship of Love with God. – He came to baptize us with Fire and the Holy Spirit – to have a living faith – a Living Relationship with Him.
At Baptism all of us were given a candle that was on fire – and we were told to keep that faith alive.
[[Light Baptismal Candle and hold it in the right hand]]
The fire of that Candle is a symbol of our faith. Fire provides warmth, light and security. Have you ever met someone who was truly “On Fire” for Jesus. Their faith fascinates us like the fire of a camp fire. One person who I met that was “On Fire” for Jesus is Mark, a beer drinking, Rugby player from Metro State College. Mark dressed like a bit of a barbarian, armed with an infectious grin, crazy, unkempt hair and a fierce love for the Lord. Spend ten minutes in conversation with Mark and you had no doubt of his intelligence, his Love for the Lord and his desire to deepen his own relationship with God. Mark is for me an example of Living Faith. He was a fascinating person, profoundly aware of his own short-comings and sinfulness, and at the same time, very much alive. Being around Mark made me desire to be more alive as well. This is the beauty of a living Faith.
[[Place the Candle on the Ambo]]
A Living Faith is the foundation for knowing what is God’s will in my life. In this way Faith leads to service – which is the subject of today’s Gospel.
Whenever Christ is speaking of the Servant in the Gospel he is speaking to each of us, because we are His disciples in the world today. Christ’s Teaching to his disciples today is to be always at work with His Father’s business. This is the mission of the good and faithful servant. This is the mission of you and I today.
What are ways that we can live out our lives of Faith? What are ways that we can be found doing the will of our heavenly Father?
1. Become a Catechist. A good way to learn your faith is to pass it on to another. When you have to explain your faith, you come to understand it more yourself. Those of you called by God to be catechists ought to contact Marina and Tina (There numbers are in the Bulletin).
2. Volunteer to serve at the Mass. We are always in need of new Lectors, Extra-ordinary ministers of the Eucharist, Musicians, Ushers, Servers, Sacristans. Part of the obligation for those serving in these roles is to deepen their own faith lives, and having a ministry to perform in the Church gives expression to that faith life, and encourages it’s growth.
3. Consider helping out in taking communion to the Home Bound and the Nursing Homes. This parish has a tremendous number of elderly people who are deeply in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, but are seldom unable to receive him. This is part of the Master’s business that we as a parish have an opportunity to reach out even more to these members of our community.
4. The Neo-Catechumenal is coming to our parish in a few weeks. Consider joining them to improve your relationship with Christ.
Faith requires a life of preparation and work
All means of growing in faith require action on our part. Faith is not something that your or I can receive from a pill, rather it requires work and commitment from us. We have to become engaged in our relationship with Christ and break out of the Dead-Faith Habits that we have allowed to form in our lives.
St. Thomas More
St. Thomas More was the Chancellor of England during the time of Henry the VIII (The time of Columbus). One night he was visiting with some friends, and they were smoking pipes, playing cards and drinking beer. That evening as the cards went around one of his friends asked him – “Thomas, if you were to die tomorrow morning, what would you be doing tonight?” St. Thomas thought for a moment as the hand was played out, and then replied; “I think that the Lord would want me to enjoy my friendships with you guys, and would love the fact that I spent the evening playing beer and drinking cards, because He knows how much my soul longs for him, and will happily go to him when called.”
The example of St. Thomas is the example that Christ teaches us in the Gospel today. Live your life being about the Masters work, so that when the end comes, it will not matter because you will be prepared. When St. Thomas was executed by King Henry his last words were – 'I die as the King's true servant, but as God's servant first`.
When Christ comes, be that today, tomorrow, or in 70 years – will He find your faith alive? Will he find you busy with His Fathers work?