HOMILY 7-28 17th Sunday C
The Bible’s “Father Abraham” was a devoted follower of The Lord and such a dear person to God. He is worth imitating in his faith and service to God. This is our second weekend with the first reading of Mass telling of Abraham.
My homily from last week was one in taking note of the welcoming spirit and the hospitality of the man. He welcomed in the three mysterious travelers to his property, because he surely knew they were sent by God. God was pleased with this attitude of Abraham and wife Sarah. They also had a big opening spirit to welcome God into their lives. I point to some bible verses from Hebrews 11that speaks to that model of faith:
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land, like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
That is high praise to their faith! God was so pleased by it, He gave Abraham and Sarah a gift back to them for their openness to Him, which came in the gift of a child to be born in the barren womb of Sarah.
Let us add on to mentioning of the good attributes of Abraham and look further to Abraham as a holy model for us to try to be.
- Let us pray for our own life to have an Abraham-like gift of discernment skills. Because of a deep prayer life, and a seeking mind and heart, he was able to discern and figure out that the three big guests passing by on the road were indeed messengers of God. That took a keen insight and recognition ability, only born from a prayer-first, God-first life. If we are to size things up today, in the enlightenment of faith, then we might rely more on a life of prayer and hoped-for discernment to guide our lives.
- Let us pray for the Abrahamic desire to pray and intercede to God, going so intimately with God, in such a persistent spirit, that we reveal our passion to know God. Abraham knew how to deeply engage with God, now even sounding like a bargainer in this story. But that just shows how much God and Abraham were friends—that it would happen like that. Abraham is just interested in saving lives of his kin in the north country of Israel, respecting that their time was limited before God closed down that half of the enterprise in the Holy Land, and God appreciated Abe’s concern for others souls. After all, God is the Supreme One interested in caring for souls, to see them saved. Abraham was on his saving wavelength.
- So—can we pray to be better in this department of soul caring? Do we have a burden for others’ lives and for their souls to be saved from slavery to sin and death, and as from ungodliness and all the perils of secular humanism?
Let us emulate Abe’s caring heart for the soul’s welfare of his brother and sister human beings. He really cared a lot for Lot ☺and for all the others to get out of their godless situation up north and to come down south to where the righteous did dwell.
Apply it to us. How much do we pray about the conversion of so many unchurched peoples in our neighborhoods? Do we fear at all their possible death without a knowing of God in them and an ignorance of the way of salvation in Jesus Christ? We know the Good News and we know the Savior. Do we have a heart for those captive in some darkness and unknowing of God truly? No, compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, our own Burtonsville and West Laurel, and Calverton, Silver Spring and Fulton/Ashton are not placed on the “to destroy list” of God—and their most grievous sins may not cry out to Heaven in audacity, but they still need God to come and set them right.
- Let’s look at more of Abraham’s good gifts to imitate for our faith. Our Sunday Genesis text says how Abraham was a wise assessor of some big pictures of life going on. What ‘s an assessor? In the spiritual sense, it is a person, guided by the Spirit, who can wisely observe and evaluate and interpret a situation. It is a person who is led by that discerning way to take smart action upon it. Abraham does clearly see a very bad situation going on up north from him, and the fidelity of a whole region of people falling prey to, and falling into, serious sin and offense to God.
How should WE be better assessors of people’s bad situations going on around us? Well, does your prayer life and mindful thoughts and discernment tell you something of our surroundings in our neighborhoods—do we see how unconnected so many people are with God and from having with any believing community church? Does the numbers of unchurched people, particularly in many children and early teens un-evangelized or catechized or taught the very basics of the Good News, does that get your attention? The Lord does say to His followers for us to bring the Good News to the world? Evidently, many in our parish region haven’t received it? Does that bother you any? If so, then you have a good comparison to Abraham.
We are looking to act more concerned about such matters now, if we can. Even in some basic needs of boys and girls around us for some minimal school supplies and needs—we are getting a stuffed backpack campaign going for them this year. Read the bulletin on it. It’s a start to loving them where our neighbors where their needs are at. But more seriously, we want to bring the Good News to these children and families. We want people to know of our Good Heavenly Father, and the God Who Loves them in the Savior Jesus, and the Gift giving Holy Spirit that is ready to help them inside, if but shown a few things by us who know Him well.
Abraham appealed to God for how people could be saved.
We appeal to God, by intercessory prayer, and then by some ideas and actions, that we want to reach out and be God’s instruments to make some difference here.
As your pastor, I am here to encourage you to try some things
Our parish had a good new project for this Labor Day Weekend, which calls upon your support and participation. On Labor Day Sunday in the late morn and early afternoon, we want to throw a Fun Social to welcome the neighborhood to a mostly free party of amusements, food and games, oriented to young families, like in PreK or to budding families with children in K to 6.
Maybe just in our hosting some love and fun and fellowship is the thing people might be attracted to. While coming into a church on their own would be a leap for most, replying to a party might introduce ourselves best as Resurrection parish to them.
We want to save people’s lives, right–Resurrection parish?!
There are always people and families out there needing it, but we must reach out. I will close with an example from a past parish. I think of a man who lived in the area of a former parish of mine. Before he joined us “all in” and “saved,” he had a hurricane-sort of crisis happen in his life that was two-fold. He lost his wife and he lost his house in one of those hurricanes a decade and a half ago that swept high and ashore to cottage homes on the Potomac River—Maryland side. It was all very hard for him. but through it, he found people in that local parish who reached out to him, and a men’s group that welcomed him in. Could his life be saved from despair, discouragement, and down-heartedness? The answer was yes, in the response given him by the parish, its faith family community, coupled with God’s inner strength to the man—he made it through better in life. He became blest.
He had come to pray that line in the Lord’s Prayer that we heard in Luke’s Gospel version today. “O Father, do not let us be subject to the final test, but deliver us from evil.” He prayed: God, help me not to fight this double-crisis alone, and to face its test alone, nor to face you in the end all brazen and self-driven and self-sufficient—but rather, please, help me. Help me to live aright, and to find Your help, and deliver me from the darkness and evil that wants to claim me. O Lord, I give in to thee, and please share with me Your Might and Your Spirit. Alone I fail, but with You, I triumph. “