Today’s homily is about the gift of faith and I begin with Sarah and Abraham because they were featured in our second reading.
The author of Hebrews was praising them because they had such great faith. They were in their seventies when the Lord called them to a new ministry. They had a comfortable retirement situation because they had great wealth. They had hundreds of sheep and cattle and camels which they could trade for anything they needed.
One day the Lord said to them, “I came to see you for a special reason. I want you to start a new religion. I’m tired of watching people worship the sun and the moon and the stars. I want them to worship me, the Living God. Are you willing to be the founders of this new religion?”
“Yes.” they said. “We are willing.” “Even if I ask you to go 400 miles across the Great desert and start a new life in the new land that I will give you?” “Yes.” they said. “Even if you have to leave behind your livestock and all the wealth that you have accumulated over the years?” “Yes.” they said. “We are willing to start a new life because we believe that you will provide for our needs.” Shortly thereafter, Sarah and Abraham made their trip to the Promised Land.
One year later, Isaac was born and they shared their faith with him as he grew up. Isaac shared the faith with his children and they shared the faith with their children. And today the spiritual descendants of Sarah and Abraham are more numerous than the stars in the sky. All this came to pass because they put their faith in God.
Now I wish to look at a question: What is faith? Faith is the ability to see something that is not visible.
In the case of Sarah and Abraham, the Promised Land was not visible. It was 400 miles away…… On the other side of the Great Desert. And the future was not visible. But their faith told them that they could have a good life in a new land. Sarah and Abraham trusted what their faith was telling them and it paid off. They spent their final years serving the Lord in the Holy Land.
Faith made it possible for Sarah and Abraham to see what is not visible to the human eye. Faith allowed them to see what God sees. Namely, the supernatural realm.
People of faith do not get a perfectly clear view of the future; but still they get a good look. A look that is not visible to non-believers. When the People of God were living under the tyranny of the Pharaoh in the land of Egypt, some of them believed that God would rescue them and others said that that was only a false hope.
When the day of Passover finally came, only a few were able to pass over to the land of freedom….We heard that in today’s first reading. Only a few made it to the Promised Land……namely, those who believed that God would save them.
Those who did not have the eyes of faith missed out on the Passover when it finally took place. In today’s Gospel, Jesus refers to a new Passover: that great and glorious day when He will come back to this earth and complete the task of building His kingdom.
Jesus says that things will go well for those who are waiting when the Master returns. Those who still have faith will be included in his Kingdom. Not everyone will be included; just those who are watching and waiting for this big event.
For most people, the future is a deep, dark mystery. But people of faith can have a glimpse into the future because faith allows them to see what cannot be seen. When people of faith look into the future, they see the Second Coming of Christ and that is why they are optimistic. The future might contain wars and famines and floods and pandemics; but it also contains the day when Christ will come again.
I want to say a little more about the gift of faith. We can see many wonderful things if we have the eyes of faith; and the most important thing is the Resurrection. When we have faith, we can see Resurrection and we can see it everywhere. We can see it in the past; we can see it in the present; and we can see it in the future.
With respect to the past, faith helps us to see that God lifted up Jesus on Easter Sunday and gave him a new life in heaven. With respect to the present, we can see that God has lifted up our loved ones who have died and given them eternal life. With respect to the future, we can see that God will lift us up if we are faithful to Jesus, our savior.
As St. Paul says, “Those who die with Christ will live with Him for all eternity.” That is the Good News which is at the heart of Christianity. Some people are consistently pessimistic…They see bad news in the past and bad news in the present and bad news in the future.
But we are Resurrection people. We see Good News wherever we look because we see that of all of life is being resurrected by our loving God, the one who raised Jesus from the dead.
The way I see it - being optimistic is a natural by-product of having a strong faith. When we have the eyes of faith we see that God is constantly lifting up his people……beginning with Jesus on Easter Sunday and extending to you and me.
In just a few moments we will go to the altar to offer the Eucharistic Prayer, the great prayer of thanksgiving. We will give thanks to God for the gifts which we have received. We will thank the Lord for giving New Life to Jesus on Easter Sunday. We will thank the Lord for giving us New Life each day. And we will thank the Lord for giving us the gift of faith…..because faith helps us to see that which is not visible.
Faith helps us to see that God is constantly lifting us up and giving us New Life.