Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 11, 2019
Today, in Mercy, we have a few slightly complex readings. But, as with all Sunday lectionary choices, they are strung together by a single theme.
Upon first reading, we might think that theme is FAITH since the word is mentioned at least eight times. And, indeed, “faith” is the foundation of these readings – the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Desert Jews, the disciples, and the new Christian community.
It is the testimony of this ancient and enduring faith that encourages us to be ready, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel:
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
This phrase of Jesus reveals another, deeper, theme: courageous hope.
How awesome that God, in covenant with God’s People, could keep alive – for 400 years- the hope of salvation! How miraculous that these ordinary farmers, milkmaids, herdsman, and shepherds could sustain their hope through numerous generations!
Today’s readings are sending us this message:
You are the Bearer of Hope
to this generation!
It may seem in our world, and in our individual lives, that God tarries beyond tolerance in answering our hope – for peace, civility, equality, security, goodness. But we must remember that with God there is no time. God is already responding within the long fidelity of our hope. (Our clocks and Apple watches just are obscuring our view. 😉)
That faithful hope creates the space for charity. And charity is the human face of Divine Love already Abiding.
Faith, Hope, and Charity – the theological virtues (Remember that from your Baltimore Catechism?).
These virtues are the foundation of the spiritual life. Contemporary theology ties these irrevocably to the virtue of justice – the seeking of right relationship in all Creation.
Anselm Min, Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University, has edited a powerful book on this subject. (Unfortunately, now out print and thus hugely expensive). One reviewer of the book, Lameck Banda, Professor at Justo Mwale University in Lusaka, Zambia, offers this insight into Min’s collection:
“The running thread throughout this book is that, whichever way the contemporary culture may seek to view and treat faith, hope, and love, the ultimate goal of these virtues is to radically and comprehensively address issues which tend to undermine the agenda of justice.”
That summary in itself gave me a lot to think and pray about. I hope it inspires you as well. God bless your Sunday!
Music: Hymn of Hope from The Secret Garden by Rolf Lovland