OCTOBER 3, 2010 –27TH SUNDAY: HB 1:2-3,2:2-4; 2TIM 1:68,13-14; LUKE 17:5-10

 

GUARD THE RICH DEPOSIT OF FAITH WITH THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO DWELLS WITHIN US. When Saint Paul wrote these words to his young colleague and disciple, Timothy, he had repeated experience of having had to defend the true faith from a number of Jews and Gentiles as well who had posed a threat to its integrity. He knew that the charge to guard the deposit of faith could entail serious consequences, having been stoned, imprisoned, forced to leave town, and scourged for preaching and maintain the true faith. He understood well that what a person believed was a matter of fundamental significance, that gives meaning to the whole of life. He had made this clear earlier when he wrote to the faithful in Rome, citing in his letter a line from the prophet Habacuc that we heard in the first reading today: The just man lives by faith.

 

In the Gospel today too faith is depicted as a surpassing force, enabling one who adopt it as his own to achieve more than nature unaided could hope for. Repeatedly our Lord makes it clear that faith in him is essential to attain to the life he promises. This faith is an recognition and acceptance of his person; it welcomes him for the who he is, the one sent by God, who is one with the Father.

 

For Faith is much more than an intellectual assent to revealed truths, though, to be sure, it includes such assent. However, living faith involves trust in God as well, a trust based on his reliability and fidelity to his word and his promise. In fact, the faith that Jesus insists on is ultimately the confidence that it is the Word of God made flesh that we welcome in placing our trust in him. And the promise realized in us through faith is the Holy Spirit, as the risen Christ asserted just as he was about to ascend to the Father. Luke records his words at the end of his Gospel: “Behold I am sending upon you the Promise of my Father. Remain here in the city until you are empowered from on high.” (Luke 24: 49)

 

Faith, then, includes a surrender of our own self, a surrender made with an open, trusting heart. Faith opens the heart to God himself, Father, Son, and Spirit and unites us with the Blessed Trinity. Paul gave prominence to this concept of faith in his teaching, writing to the Galatians that “Scripture has locked up everything in sin, so that the promise might be given though faith in Jesus Christ, and might be given only to those who believe.”(3:22) The early teachers of Catholic truth were imbued with the awareness of the nature and importance of faith as Peter showed in his preaching after Pentecost. Not long after the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews gave radical importance to the role of faith in the spiritual life, describing its function and nature is memorable language. “It is faith that can assure the blessings we hope for; faith alone proves the realities that are unseen.” (11:1).

 

Today the liturgy in each of the three readings we have just listened to focuses our minds and speaks to our hearts on the need each of us has to cultivate a living faith that is loyally committed to the whole of revealed teaching. Not only the disciple Timothy is to guard the deposit of faith in its integrity, but each of us inherits this same opportunity and the duty that accompanies it. There are many Catholics today in our country and in other nations who choose to reject certain teachings that the Church has received on deposit from earliest times. Although our US bishops pointed out that it is a serious sin to vote for a candidate who favors abortion 54% of Catholics voted for Obama who consistently supports abortion, to name but one issue that is contrary to the deposit. We do well in these times to advert to the fact that our faith is a precious gift that we must repeatedly put into practice by our life. Faith is a choice we must make, not only one for all but daily. If we would live by it we must cultivate it by study and by meditation assimilate its content. It is through dedicating our self daily to prayer that we activate our faith and are transformed by the grace of the Spirit within us so that we witness to its truth by our lives, and not only our words. May the blessings we receive at this Eucharist lead each and all of us here at the altar so to live out our faith in the God who saves us that at the end we be found worthy to live in his loving presence for all eternity.?


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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