Wednesday, October 31, 2007

29th Sunday Ordinary Time

29th Sunday Ordinary Time
October 21, 2007

Jesus asks a compelling question in Luke 18:8. When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

This is one of those challenging questions that each of us needs to consider very seriously. This has implications for us personally, as a parish, as well as us as a people in our nation.

In pondering the question, what, do you say, is the verdict at this time? Jesus came to establish a Church filled with saints who would be victorious over sin and death through conversion of heart. And so we have to ask ourselves. Are we saints? Are we deeply engaged in the process of conversion? Or do we live more like Christian pagans, hardly distinct at all from the non-Christian culture that is present all around us?

We’ve got to be aware of this question because Jesus asks us both as a people as well as individuals – will he find faith in us when he comes?

For he comes.
He comes today in sacrament to strengthen us in holiness. We gather at mass to be fed by the bread of life. And he who is the bread of life asks us to examine ourselves carefully and be reconciled with one another and with God prior to approaching the altar. But how many of us have approached this altar lackadaisically time and time again without being reconciled? How many of us have gone years and years without the sacrament of confession? How often do we fail to attend to our conversion?

He comes.
He comes at the end of our lives, when the temple that is our body is destroyed in death. And when that time comes will our lives give testimony to faith in him? Will we have been converted or not? Scripture teaches quite clearly that Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell are all very real destinations at the end of our lives? Our judgement will be based on our choosing conversion through faith in Jesus Christ. Or not.

He comes.
He comes at the end of the ages to pour judgment upon the earth. To gather his elect into the eternal kingdom. To sentence the devil and all his followers into the eternal fire. Every day we live is a day closer to this final date with destiny.

He comes, and what he asks of us is to have the faith that leads to conversion.

So be converted. We all need this message. Be converted. We are not yet holy enough. We are not yet converted enough. We are still too much of this world and not nearly enough of the kingdom of God. Be converted.

Yes. Conversion can sometimes seem to be very difficult. But the scripture gives us some very basic things we can do to speed ourselves along in our conversion. And if we are persistent in these little steps of conversion, then God will make of us the saints he intends for us to be.

Here are two little steps from today’s scriptures to help us on our road to conversion.

Pray. As simple as this is, often enough we get very lazy about our prayers and forget to do them on a daily basis. Or we get into a rote recitation that has no heart to it. Pray every day. Morning and night. Pray without becoming weary. Use the tools for prayer that the church gives us. Daily mass. The Rosary. Lectio Divina. Litanies and songs. Meditation and reflection. Quiet conversation with God. Eucharistic Adoration. Need I go on? We have many tools for prayer. Persevere in prayer according to Jesus’ instruction. Pray, and get closer to Jesus. Pray with the help of the saints in heaven and with the Church on earth. Pray always without becoming weary. Pray.

Read the bible. The bible contains everything we need for our salvation. But often enough the bible becomes a dusty book on the coffee table or a forgotten item on the shelf. Take it out and read it. St. Paul in 2nd Timothy tells us that sacred scripture gives us wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus. The bible is necessary. Take it up and read a little bit every day. Ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration prior to reading and then you will always receive a little message to help you in your conversion. Read the bible and, as St. Paul says, you will find it useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that you who belong to God may be competent and equipped for every good work. Do you want to be equipped for every good work? Read your bible. Every day. Read your bible.

Do these things. Do them faithfully and persistently. And God will make of you a saint in his kingdom. Your light will shine brightly in a darkened world. And when he comes he will indeed find the faith that he himself gave to you when you opened the door of your heart through prayer and through his holy word.

I close using the words of St. Paul as a benediction, with a little adaptation, regarding these two little steps.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power:
Pray always without becoming weary. Let the Church say amen.
Read sacred scripture every day. Let the Church say amen.
Be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient. And be convinced and encouraged, through all patience and teaching. Let the Church say amen.
May almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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