C Cycle – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 22
We all know the story of Paul’s conversion and how zealous he was about proclaiming Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father. We also know that Paul often looked at himself and realized he was always falling short of living as a believer should live. In fact, in his own words he said, “I find myself not doing the things I would like to do but find myself doing the very things I hate” (Rom.7:15).
Faith is a strange thing it moves us to believe in a God who assures us he is with us while at the same time we seem to fail to act on that belief. If you look at any reputable survey on belief in God by Americans, you will discover an overwhelming percentage (almost 90%) believe in God. While at the same time about a third of those who say they believe do not show up on Sunday to worship the God they say they believe in.
We say we believe Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, while our actions seem to indicate we are doing all we can to earn salvation by our own efforts. Do we believe God when he tells us we are his delight or not? Does God only delight in us when we follow the rules and laws or does God have moments when he disapproves of how we live our life?
In our creed which outlines the core of our beliefs, we profess to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins. We profess that he rose again from the dead and that by his rising we have been given the promise of eternal life (Jn.3:16). We unfortunately like Paul find ourselves doing things we hate, rather than living the life God has called us to live. Knowing we can easily fall into sin places on us a heavy burden of guilt, condemnation and leads us to believe we must work extra hard to stay in God’s grace.
We have failed to learn the lesson of the prodigal son. Failed to see how desperately the father is waiting to embrace us instead of condemning us. If anyone can help us understand that our holiness is a work of the Sprit and not anything we can accomplish on our own. Paul summed it up for us when he wrote, “If we profess with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Do we believe or not, do we have faith in God’s plan or our plan?
The scriptures are filled with exhortation after exhortation to act on what we believe, even when it clashes with things we have been taught about our faith. Much of what we have been taught is to follow the requirements of our faith. While at the same time we ignore those moments in the scriptures when Jesus admonishes the Pharisees for their strict adherence on the law and how that adherence to the law has kept their hearts from responding to the love of God.
The gospel message of God’s love for us, of Jesus coming in human form to rescue us, and how his death freed us should move our hearts to respond with a resounding desire to have forgiveness wash over us like a title wave. We should desire to feel renewed by forgiveness. We should desire to understand who we are in God’s eyes. For all he sees is the person created in his image whom he desires to embrace and love away our brokenness. Unfortunately, all those desires go against our instincts which tell us we are sinners.
The truth is it does not take but a small amount of faith to feel God leading us and changing us. Abraham comes to mind for when God called him to leave his home and go away from civilization, he did not question God. He packed up his possessions and started walking into the unknown. Keep in mind this was a God whose name and identity was unknown to Abraham at the time. Talk about acting on faith. We cannot forget how he was also willing to sacrifice his son Isaac believing even is he sacrificed him God would raise him from the dead. Talk about having faith in God despite the challenges to ignore what had to be a desire to say no. It is no wonder Paul calls Abraham the father of faith.
Our faith needs to be more than a proclamation of belief. It must become a conviction of our hearts, moving us to act on what we believe nor despite it not making sense to us. The scriptures tell us we must do more than just say we believe; we must act on that belief. We need to do more than to say we believe in God’s love, or that we believe in Jesus Christ as the savior, or how his resurrection has given us eternal life. No, we must believe in Jesus in a way that binds us to him and creates in us a desire for more of his presence in our life each day, each moment.
We need more than belief, to become faithful servants and to become active in helping others encounter the life we are offered by our belief. Faith calls us to act on what we believe and to do more than just show up each week. Believing in Christ should be a fire burning in our hearts, moving us in a way that we cannot contain our outward expression of joy because God’s love has flooded our hearts.
Acting on what we believe should be a force that changes us. We can become new creations in Christ. We can become transformed inro disciples who daily experience the grace flowing from Jesus’s crucifixion. That is what is ours if we simply are willing to accept what God offers us instead of trying to win God’s favor.
This parable is about us. It is not about some foolish virgins or some lazy servant who believes he has time to do what God desires him to do. No, God’s grace overcomes all our misguided beliefs about God’s love and mercy. It challenges all our misconceptions, and erroneous beliefs. It challenges us to desire to encounter God as Abraham did and Christ as Paul did. What is it you desire because you profess to believe?