Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16/ Isaiah 1:1, 10-20/ Luke 12:32-40
Where Faith Leads Us
Today, we will reflect on faith. When I started meditating on today’s scriptures, the first thing that popped into my mind was my favorite TV show of all time, Doctor Who. In that show, the Doctor always travels with one or more companions. They all develop deep affection and trust for the Doctor. The Doctor often calls them “my best friends.”
In one episode, the Doctor leaves his companion Clara alone in the enemy’s lair. She feels betrayed. She is scared. The enemy asks her, “Where is the other one?” She pretends to be brave and starts bluffing. The enemy is ready to torture her for information. In this state of terror, Clara says, “I don’t know where he is. But I know where he will be, where he will always be. If the Doctor is still the Doctor, he will have my back.” And she extends her hand backwards hoping that the Doctor will suddenly show up and hold it. As she waits in silence and utters, “Go on, please, please. God, say I’m right,” he does appear and holds her hand. It turns out, he was disguising himself to come incognito. For me, Clara’s attitude in this scene shows us what faith is about. Even in mortal danger, she mustered up courage through her faith and trust.
The Book of Hebrews defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” When we have faith, we trust and hope in things that we cannot see. Clara trusted the Doctor to come save her even though she was worried he might not be able to.
Hebrews chapter 1 lists Abraham and his wife Sarah as some of the examples of great people of faith. Abraham obeyed God’s command to set out for the place that he was to inherit. He is already an old man and didn’t even know where he was going. Yet, he obeyed. He and Sarah had a child, and through him, a lot of descendants, at impossibly old ages, especially when Sarah was barren. This is faith. A lot of biblical characters are our role models as people of faith, including Abraham and Sarah. However, Abraham and Sarah’s example should not make us expect supernatural miracles such as old women getting pregnant. That is not the point of faith.
Living Out the Faith
Today’s gospel text has two lessons. The first one is continuing what we talked about last Sunday: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It teaches us to put our hearts and minds on the things that belong to God’s reign such as works of compassion and justice. We sell our possessions to help the poor and side with the marginalized because we are not too attached to our material possessions and we are compassionate like Jesus.
The second lesson is that we should be alert and ready because we don’t know when the Lord will come back. This lesson is traditionally connected to the idea that God’s judgment day will come, and we call this “the end of the world.”
But whether we believe in the end of the world or not, the advice to stay alert and be ready is a wise one. We don’t know our future and when God will take us. Therefore, we should not postpone doing what is good and living the lifestyle of compassion and justice. I call this “the kingdom lifestyle.” Loving our neighbours as ourselves should be a lifestyle. Not following what is evil and siding with the vulnerable members of our society should be a lifestyle. Sporadically doing good deeds is not what God wants from us.
This gospel teaching is about stewardship. We are God’s stewards in the world until we are called home. Stewardship is not about individual acts. God expects us to faithfully live by the teachings of Jesus. What does God want from us? Let us take a look at Isaiah chapter 1.
God’s Rant Against Empty Faith
In Isaiah chapter 1, we hear God’s exasperated rant. God doesn’t want empty offerings. Our outward expressions of faith are futile if we do not live out God’s love and justice in our lives. We are not to do evil. We are told to seek justice. How? By rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan, and pleading for the widow. In short, we are to take care of and fight for the vulnerable and marginalized.
Living the Kingdom Lifestyle
We are here in the faith community because we profess our faith. But we learn that faith is nothing if it is not accompanied by a commitment to live by the teachings of Jesus. If we have faith, it should lead us to the kingdom lifestyle. With our faith, let us selflessly love our neighbours, serve each other, and do justice as a lifestyle.