Well, after our “commercial break” about our finances last week, we can return to our regularly scheduled messages. In this present Year of Faith, proclaimed by Pope Benedict, we have been asked to reflect upon the importance of our faith. On June 29th of this year, Pope Francis has written an encyclical entitled “Lumen Fidei” or “The Light of Faith”. I would urge you to pick it up and read it. It is very short and will provide you with some great points for reflection on our faith.
“Faith,” he reminds us, is not an illusory light or a leap in the dark, but a light that is “capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence” (LF. P. 3). As the author of Hebrews reminds us in today’s reading, it was faith that enlightened the men and women of old and empowered Abraham to uproot his life, leave his home, and go to a strange land that God would show him.
Faith tells us that the Lord is always gazing upon us with infinite love. When we fear him, putting our trust and faith in him and in his provision, we console His Heart and become fully alive, more fully the persons that God means us to be. Faith helps us realize that “a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome the word – Jesus Christ the word made flesh – the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope” (LF. P. 7).
The world, the devil, and even our own fallen nature will have us believe the lie that there is no help for us apart from ourselves. How many people really believe “God only helps those who help themselves”? While it is true that we have to do our part, Scripture also tells us, “While we were still helpless God helped us” (Romans 5: 6, 8).
The light of faith has been such a powerful, life transforming light in the lives of so many that we have to say that it cannot come from ourselves. Faith is not an illusory light that blocks our path to greater fulfillment in the future; but rather, “opens before us the vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves toward the breadth of communion” (LF. P. 4).
At the end of the encyclical, Pope Francis closes with a prayer to Mary. May it be our prayer as well, as he writes: “Mother, help our faith! Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call. Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise. Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith. Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially in times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature. Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One. Remind us that those who believe are never alone. Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!”
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
August 11, 2013
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The very first verse of today’s gospel reading tells us exactly why the gospel is Good News. Jesus calls us his “little flock” because he knows how powerless we sometimes feel in a world where violence is so prevalent. But we are also told not to fear, because our heavenly Father is pleased to give us the kingdom. It is precisely because we rely on love and generosity rather than on control and violence that we are eligible for this most precious gift of the “kingdom,” that is, ultimate freedom and happiness.
Like a Thief in the Night
“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
(Based on the commentary on Matthew xxiv by Cornelius a’ Lapide)
Some in the early Church considered the thief to be Satan. Thus St. Hilary says that the parable of the thief “shows that the devil is very watchful to take from us our goods, and to plot against the houses of our souls, that he may dig through them
19th Sunday: Don’t Just Look Busy, Be Busy
Today’s Gospel reading reminds me of the old story of the apparition on the corner of Main and Market in a busy city. It was Saturday morning when Fr. Pascucci heard a knock on the rectory door and an extremely excited lady said, “The Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market.” Father was in the process of trying to decide if she was suffering from stress or whatever, when a second person came running, “Father, father, the Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market.” “When?” Fr. Pascucci asked. “He’s there right now,” they both answered. So Fr. Pascucci went down the block where a large crowed had formed, and sure enough, he saw Jesus. After a while the Lord left. Fr. Pascucci didn’t know what to do, so he called a monsignor friend of his. His friend told him
Faith as a Dynamic Journey
I recently visited Italy and was reminded of the religious contrast between America and Europe. In Europe, large numbers of people consider themselves agnostics or even atheists.
In America, something like 95% of the population “believes in God.” Nearly as high a percentage also believes that there is a life after death and that people are rewarded or punished by God in the next life based on how they lived this life.