Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Living your faith
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen … By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place …. not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents …. By faith …. Sarah herself was sterile – for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. So it was that there came forth from one man …. descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore. All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland….. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.Heb 11,1-2.8-19
Before starting praising Abraham, a master of faith, Paul gives a theological definition of this virtue: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen”. Then, the apostle goes on listing the key moments of faith in Abraham. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he was supposed to inherit, and he left not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents”. The man of faith is still today a stranger in the world, because he is in constant search for the city “with sound fundaments”: the heavenly Jerusalem. “By faith Sarah, even if not the right age,” become mother, giving birth to “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore”. “By faith, Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac”, the son of the promise and the first one in his countless offspring. And he trusted God blindly, even when it seemed that he would deny his promises. “He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol”: the symbol of Resurrection. “In faith all of them [Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob] died”, without seeing the accomplishment of God’s promises, but in faith. We must ponder on the blind faith of this man for a long time, because he really teaches us what living on faith and only on faith really means, without any other human certainty. By the strength of this faith he became the origin of an offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Our faith is but a little thing if compared to Abraham’s, but we have had moments when the Lord also asked us to live only on faith. When Maria Carmela fell ill with a tumor in her brain and doctor Nicola, who had operated her, gave us no life expectancy, we were called to live only on faith. But the Lord led us even to lose it when, on the day when she was to receive the sacrament of her Confirmation, we saw Maria Carmela falling down to the ground more than once. Then the Lord healed her, but, only for us to be clear that he was the one and only reason for that healing, he drew us near to losing our faith. Blind faith also has no expectations: it knows that it has no merit very well.