Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sermon by Emmanuel Suntheni OSB -Nineteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time –
Sermon And Christian Act In The Word
Theme: Importance of Faith! Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!
Point of Reflection: What is my treasure in my life? Where do I keep my treasure? As Christians, our treasure must be our faith and our faith must be kept both in the heart and mind.
First Reading: Wisdom of Solomon 18:6–9
Psalm: Psalm 33:1, 12, 18–19, 20–22
Second Reading: Hebrews 11:1–2, 8–19
Gospel: Luke 12:32–48
Sermon (Reflection): The first reading from the book of Wisdom recalls the night when the Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus. The author states that the spectacular events of “that night” had been made known beforehand to the Israelites, so that they wait for that moment, rejoicing in the knowledge of what awaits them. The author stresses that “they trusted” in God’s plan and that “his oath” would come true. History proved them right. Whom do we trust in our life? Some of us trust in human witch doctors instead of trusting in God.
The brief introductory statement of the book of Wisdom reveals an essential element of true faith. Leaving Egypt, the Israelites took a tremendous risk. The Egyptians were powerful, and not about to willingly let their slaves go free. If God’s plan should fail, the Israelites risked death at the hands of their vengeful masters. Therefore, trusting in the reliability of God’s promises and acting on them, the Israelites demonstrated true faith. They trusted God to the extent of leaving the uncomfortable but relatively secure environment of Egypt, risking their lives, and following God into the unknown.
As Christians, always in our life, we must take risks but we must demonstrate true faith in God, not human ailments.
In the second scriptural reading of today, we get the only systematic definition of faith found in the Bible “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” According to this definition, faith is the trust that what one hopes for, and which is not yet seen, will surely come true. This definition is supported by a series of personal examples of the heroes of faith, ranging from Abel to the Maccabean martyrs (Cf. Hebrews 11:2-40).
The greatest example and illustration of faith cited by the author of Hebrews is Abraham. God promised Abraham a land of his own. Trusting this promise, Abraham leaves his homeland and, like the Israelites during the Exodus, takes the risk of going into the unknown: without knowing where he was going, and how God’s promise would come true. Once in the land of Canaan, living in a tent as a nomad, he holds on to the hope that this land would permanently belong to his descendants. The author interprets this hope as Abrahams’ far-reaching anticipation of the heavenly city, Jerusalem, a symbol of eternal life (Cf. Hebrews 12:22). Furthermore, Abraham and his wife Sarah had no children. And yet God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. Abraham never ceased to trust that this promise would eventually come true. It did, and Abraham’s descendants became the great and numerous people of Israel.
However, the ultimate test of faith came when God demanded of Abraham the sacrifice of his only son and the child of the promise, Isaac. This was not a test of obedience but a test of trust. Abraham was asked to demonstrate his trust in God to the point of letting go of what was the promise’s apparent fulfilment – his only son. Was God contradicting himself by giving him a son and then asking that the child be returned to God through sacrifice? Abraham surely did not understand God’s demand, but he kept on trusting God and acted in accordance with God’s command. Because of Abraham’s trust and confidence in God, Isaac was given back to him. God kept his promise.
The author of Hebrews uses this final example of trust in the face of death as a model for the Christian faith, which finds its fullest expression in the hope of the resurrection.
Believers who maintain their trust in God’s promise of eternal life, even in the face of inevitable death, manifest Abraham-like faith; they live in the assurance of something not yet seen. This assurance shapes their life on earth, where they live as strangers and migrants waiting to go home.
The gospel story further illustrates the meaning of faith. Jesus begins his teaching by calling on his “little flock” not to be afraid. This designation and exhortation imply that the disciples are only a small minority amidst a large and often hostile world. They are like “lambs among wolves” (cf. Lk 10:3). However, Jesus assures them that they have a glorious future ahead of them, because their Father, God, decided to give them a kingdom. Despite being little, insignificant and afflicted now, their destiny is eternal life in God’s presence. The disciples are called to trust in this promise and shape their lives in the present world accordingly.
The first expression of this trust is the disciples’ attitude to material wealth. According to this Gospel, each person has a fundamental choice to make – either to trust wealth and seek security in possessions, or trust God and seek security in faith. The first option ties a person to this passing world and is, therefore, a foolish choice, for this world passes away. The second option guarantees eternal life, and is, therefore, a wise choice. Naturally, only God can be trusted, as the giver of true and permanent life. Such a life is the treasure that the disciples ought to seek wholeheartedly.
The second expression of faith is vigilance, exemplified by the servants waiting for their master’s return. Those waiting for the master’s return symbolize Christians waiting for the return of Jesus. Such vigilance ensures that the anxieties and concerns of daily life do not overshadow the disciples’ commitment to Jesus and his teaching and does not allow the disciples to lose sight of their true heavenly destiny.
The final expression of trust in God’s promise is the life of service, illustrated by examples of the two managers. One is faithful to his task and receives an appropriate reward. The other fails in his task because he cannot sustain his commitment to the master over a long time. Swayed by the allure of wealth and pleasure, the unfaithful manager abandoned his task of serving and lost everything as a result.
Luke teaches that true faith manifests itself in vigilant waiting for Jesus, and in faithful service. Such trust in a heavenly life does not take believers out of this world, but it gives them the right focus and perspective on, and in, this present world. True faith looks to the distant future, but it has a decisive impact on the present.
Christian Act in Word of God “Increase my faith”
I wish us to begin our Christian act today with a very beautiful song about the importance of faith “I have decided to follow Jesus…No turning back.” Faith is a decision not to turn back even when things are not going as one anticipates. My dear brothers and sisters, let us not turn back as we have decided to follow Jesus Christ and we must stand firm in your faith.
It took faith for Abraham to leave behind a familiar background and start a journey holding on to the word of God, and it took him even greater faith to sustain that decision he had made. It took faith in the word of God for the Israelites to get out of Egypt, and it took them an even greater faith to reach Canaan.
A faithful person is one who is full of faith and worthy of trust. Such a person is unfazed by the changing scenes of life. Authentic faith is not subject to change when circumstances change. Faithfulness to the Lord entails carrying out to the very end the task he has entrusted to us. As Christians we must be strong in our faith.
To follow Jesus is not a call to lie on a bed of roses, but to walk on the rough road that leads to holiness. The trials and temptations of the journey often deflate our ego, and many give up. Perhaps, rather than throwing in the towel, we may consider nourishing the little faith left in our hearts. Where there is faith, all things are possible. Never get tired of walking on rough roads, it is through the walking of rough road that we strengthen our faith. Our treasure must be faith and faith in God alone.
Action: I will look for heavenly treasures not earthly treasures and may God increase my faith in Him.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, increase our faith in You and may we place our trust in You. Help us to strive for heavenly treasures not earthly treasures. Strengthen us to hold on to you by faith as we climb the steep path of life, Amen.
- Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 6, 2022
- Think & Live Beyond Vanity: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 30, 2022
- Never Stop Praying: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 23, 2022