Wisdom 18: 6-9; Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-19; Luke 12: 32-48
A few years ago I was doing some mission work down in El Salvador when we were introduced to a gentlemen who had immigrated to the United States illegally during the civil war in El Salvador out of desperation to try to feed his family. Obviously he’s now back in San Salvador, but as he told his story about this journey, by foot mind you, I was simply in awe of the faith and trust that he had that somehow God would get him here and provide for his family. In a moment of desperation my guess is we wouldn’t be much different; we would do whatever we had to to provide the basic needs for loved ones. The only way it can be accomplished was this guys faith and deep trust in God during that journey to the States.
But his story is also our story according to the writer of Hebrews. We are all immigrants in a way seeking out the heavenly homeland. None of us are meant for this land. This isn’t the end of the journey but rather a stopping point to that heavenly homeland, but as the writer tells us, like the guy journeying from El Salvador, it takes a great deal of faith and trust to be able to recognize that and continue to find hope, especially when all seems lost or that God is not answering our prayers.
Hebrews goes onto reference the many heroes of faith that have gone before us and the depth of the faith that they had. The writer speaks of Abraham and Sarah and their faith. Think about it…these two at some point had to question their faith and God. They waited until way beyond child-bearing years for their prayers to be answered. For decades they waited and nothing. They had to question and doubt as human beings. So often, though, it comes down to us getting out of the way. All too often we want to control things, fix our lives, think we have all the answers and so on, but that’s not God that us trying to be god. That’s not us keeping our eye on the promised land in this faith journey. The writer goes onto say that many of them don’t even have the chance to get to the promised land during this life, but it doesn’t cause them to give up on God and to give up on faith, it only deepens it. It is at those moments that we have to step out of the way and let God be God and let God do God’s thing!
Solomon, the writer of Wisdom, today’s first reading, talks of that perseverance in those darkest and challenging times as we journey through this life. He says look at all that God has done for us and through us! These were people that were wavering in their faith and Solomon wants to assure them to persevere. Think about the passover and the Exodus we have experienced; look at all of it! God hasn’t abandoned us through it all so how can we?
It’s unfortunate that part of the Gospel in between what we heard last week of the rich man building barns and this weeks parables a part has been cut out and probably one that we often need to hear. He addresses the little flock about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air and not to have worry and anxiety over what you will eat and what you will wear…seek out the true treasure he tells us today; search the heart and there you will find the treasure you look for.
Today we pray for all those who may find themselves wavering in faith. Heck, it may be us here in this church today. Like Abraham and Sarah and the many other heroes of faith and cloud of witnesses that have gone before us, we find ourselves tested in faith when our prayers are not answered. We find ourselves questioning and doubting God, especially in the world we live. All too often we want to give up on God and yet, it is only on keeping our eyes on the promised land, that heavenly homeland that God has prepared, that we can grow ever more deeply in our faith and trust.
We are Abraham and Sarah just as much as we are that gentleman from El Salvador. We are the immigrants seeking out a greater homeland, at times wandering aimlessly and not knowing where we are going. They teach us not to give up in those moments. No, we may not experience the promised land like others, but we live and die in faith just as they did. Not abandoning God but rather abandoning our own need to be god in controlling and fixing and all the answers. That’s not faith; that’s us. When we surrender ourselves to this immigrant journey to the homeland our faith and trust will deepen and finally God will be allowed to be God and we will know the promise of the heavenly homeland.