Monday, August 12, 2013

Late Posting: Becoming Rich in the Sight of God

PRAISED BE Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The rich man thought that he was a very fulfilled man. He had more than enough of what he needed that he had to tear down his barn to build a larger one. He consoled himself with the thought: “Now you have so many good things stored up for many years. Rest, eat, drink, and be merry!”

But this is not so because the Lord warns us: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” One’s life does not consist of possessions because the purpose of life is not to be rich in material possessions but to be rich in God’s sight. St. Paul, in the 2nd reading, reminds us: “Seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not what is of earth.” Oftentimes, our hearts are much concerned with the things of the earth at the expense of what is really more important…which would be the salvation of our souls. We are much too concerned with material things that eventually will pass away while we forget that we are meant for eternal life. Material possessions may sustain us at present but these will be left behind when God calls us to depart from this world at the moment of death. Therefore, we should strive to be rich, not with material possessions but to be rich in the sight of God. Fr. Aris Sison said, “To become rich in the sight of God means not to fall into the temptation of anxiety as if everything depends on us. To become rich in the sight of God means to subordinate all – work, goods, and life to God’s Kingdom. To become rich in the sight of God means ‘to give alms’.”

St. John Vianney said: “If someone cheats us once, we say, ‘We will trust him no more – and with good reason.’ The world cheats us continually and we love it. ‘Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world,’ St. John warns us. If we give some thought to what the world really is, we should pass all our lives in bidding it farewell…Everyday, we are bidding farewell to the world. We are like travelers who enjoy the beauty of the countryside through which they are passing. No sooner do they see it than it is time for them to leave it behind. It is exactly the same for the pleasures and the good things to which we have become so attached. Then we arrive at the edge of eternity, which engulfs all these things in its abyss.

“It is then that the world will disappear forever from our eyes and that we shall recognize our folly in having been so attached to it. And all that has been said to us about sin!...Then we shall say: It was all true! Alas, I lived only for the world, I sought nothing but the world in all I did, and now the pleasures and the joys of the world are not for me any longer! They are all slipping from me – this world which I have loved so well, these joys, these pleasures which I have so fully occupied my heart and my soul!

“Now I must return to God! . . . How consoling this thought is for him who sought only God throughout his life! But what a despairing thought for him who has lost sight of God and of the salvation of his soul.” (Sermon of St. John Vianney)

“Vanity of vanities! All things are vanities!” Because of this, “think of what is above, not of what is of the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ appears, then you too will appear in glory.”

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

We gain fresh vision!


The readings today speak of Faith as a light that illumines our path in the darkness of waiting. In his first encyclical entitled Lumen Fidei, our Holy Father made mention of a common misconception that associates faith with darkness: that faith is a “leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotion” (Francis, Lumen Fidei, 3.) This so called darkness of faith perhaps comes from a misconception of what the Letter to the Hebrews said in the 2nd reading that faith “is the evidence of things not seen” – that faith forces us to uphold things that we do not see nor understand.

Faith is light which illumines every aspect of human life
However, the contrary is true. “Faith is a light…The light of faith…is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful…must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love…Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us.” (Lumen Fidei, 4.) The Book of Wisdom (the 1st reading) referred to the night of the Passover in which the People of Israel “awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes” – in other words, they awaited on that night their liberation from slavery. However, their waiting in the middle of darkness of the night was illumined by faith for they waited “with the sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith.” They were so sure that God would indeed save them for God has made an oath to do so and they know that God fulfills his promises. The Lord bids us to gird our loins and light our lamps and wait like servants waiting for their master to return from a Wedding feast. He tells us to wait and this we do because we know in faith that he will return. Faith illumines our waiting. We just do not sit in the dark without a clue as to what to expect. We know that the Lord will return because he said so. We look forward to the fulfillment of his promise.

St. Philomena whose feast we celebrate today, was a 13 year old girl who endured 40 days of imprisonment, was scourged, thrown into the river with an anchor tied around her, was subjected to arrows and eventually was beheaded all because she refused the love of an emperor in order to honor a promise of her virginity to Christ. It is highly unthinkable that a girl her age could endure such a long and frightening darkness on her own. She was true to her name “Philomena” which meant “Friend / Daughter of light.” Martyrs like her could not have endured it were it not for the light of their faith that opened their eyes towards a future that made sense of their sufferings. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” The reliability of this promise rested on their experience of God’s love that is always dependable. “Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time.” (Lumen Fidei, 4.) “The Lord says, I am the Light of the world. No one who follows me will walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“Faith demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a countenance which will unveil itself personally in its own good time.” (Lumen Fidei, 13.) We reject instant answers. We patiently wait for God to reveal himself and his will. We constantly turn to the living God in a personal encounter. We entrust ourselves to his merciful love. We willingly let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God’s call. By constantly turning towards the Lord, we discover a sure path which liberates us from the aimless passing of paths that lead to nowhere. We walk by faith and not by sight. We walk a path that is firm and sure. 

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!