Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 2 MC 7:1-2, 9-14
Responsorial Psalm PS 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
- (15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Reading 2 2 THES 2:16-3:5
Alleluia RV 1:5A, 6B
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 20:27-38
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
John Sablan, is a Catholic speaker and evangelist. He recently gave a talk to a men’s group where he described the challenges of his faith journey. At one point in his life, he compared the commitment to his faith to a children’s song called The Hokey Pokey. You may have heard of it or even danced to The Hokey Pokey at a wedding reception.
John compared his early faith life to The Hokey Pokey because he couldn’t seem to make a commitment. Instead of jumping in with both feet…the right foot would go in and the right foot would come out. The left foot would go in and the left foot would come out…
The pivotal point of John’s conversion came during a men’s conference that he attended. While listening to an inspirational speaker, he realized the shortcomings in his faith commitment. After going to reconciliation and Eucharistic adoration he was able to fully embrace his faith and realized that habitual sin and trauma from child abuse had held him back.
· If we think about our own lives…have there been times when we danced the Hokey Pokey with a lack of commitment to our faith?
· When we aren’t fully committed to our faith, what are we vulnerable to?
In my own experience, the devil seemed to have a lot more influence in my life when the commitment to my faith was weak. Resisting temptation and avoiding habitual sin was much more difficult.
St. Peter gave us a chilling image when he said: “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith…”
In our 1st reading today we hear an incredible story of a family who was able to resist horrendous evil because of a great commitment to their faith. The mother and her 7 sons were tortured and killed because they refused to violate God’s law. Their devotion gave them the courage to endure physical suffering because they had faith in the Resurrection and the life of the world to come. They were confident their mortal lives would be transcended by eternal life with God.
We are fortunate to have religious freedom in our times, but evil is still on the prowl looking for people who may still be on the fence about their faith. You see, our Lord gave us a very simple way to think about our faith commitment. In Matthew 12 and Luke 11, Jesus tells us: “Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me, scatters.”
This is a very polarizing view of our faith, but the stakes are very high. Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers is an author and evangelist from Portland. He has a unique way to help us think about our commitment. He often tells his listeners: “after we die, we've only got two choices: heaven or hell, smoking or non-smoking”
These are convincing arguments for those willing to listen to a discussion about faith. Unfortunately, there may be people we know that have stopped listening. There are probably people in our lives who have never experienced a faith tradition or have left the Church and never found a good reason to return.
The challenge we have as a friend or relative is to help them find a good reason. Very few of us can evangelize like Deacon Harold or John Sablan but there are many opportunities to hear good speakers. The Archdiocese of Dubuque sponsors a separate men’s and women’s conference every year. The women’s conference is January 25th and the men’s conference is March 14th, both in Cedar Rapids. Both include great speakers and Mass with Archbishop Jackels.
If an out of town conference is not appropriate, watch the bulletin or bulletin board for other events closer to home like a Date Night or a CEW retreat. The challenge for us, is to be willing to extend an invitation to those who may be vulnerable and without faith. Be willing to invite people to learn about our faith and to live our faith life in a manner that makes our invitation appealing.
With the holidays coming up, consider making a list of friends and family you will be seeing and can invite. As you may have experienced already, some people are good at declining such invitations and making excuses. Our challenge is to be friendly, persistent and help them eliminate the excuses.
St. John Paul II reminded us that a commitment to our faith makes us “the light of the world”. There may be darkness all around us, but we know the darkness will not prevail. Our personal encounter with Christ bathes life in new light, sets us on the right path, and sends us out to be witnesses.
As we recommit to our faith by reciting the Nicene Creed, let us ask God for the inspiration and patience we need to help those around us who may still be in darkness.