Heb 11:1-2, 8-19 or 11:1-2, 8-12
Lk 12:32-48 or 12:35-40
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“For he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.” So the second reading today describes Abraham, our father in faith. God made an oath to him, that though elderly and without children, he would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Abraham trusted the oath, and acted accordingly – not because what he was told made sense to him, but because he trusted the one who was telling him. He didn’t see the evidence according to our human way of seeing, measuring, and analyzing things. The evidence he had was his faith, “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen,” as the second reading tells us.
Not only Abraham but the people of Abraham likewise trusted God. The first reading tells us, “With sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, … your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes.” What was the evidence that their foes would be destroyed? It was not any apparent weakness of their foes, but rather their faith, the “evidence of things not seen,” because there was one who did see, and told them.
We, too, are commanded to have that same faith, now rooted in the oaths God has sworn to us through the blood of Christ. We too are to have “sure knowledge” that we will be delivered from all our foes, all that oppresses the human family, all our sins, and death itself. The Culture of Death, no matter how strong it seems, has lost its foundation.
God swore an oath to Abraham; he swore an oath to us in Christ. He sets us free from error, sin, and death through the cross and resurrection of Christ – a cross and resurrection in which we share. Every one of the sacraments, in fact, is an oath (which is what the word “sacramentum” means). When, for example, our sins are forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance, God gives us his oath that we are forgiven, and also that his grace is with us to resist temptation in the future. When we are confirmed, the oath of God is that the power of the Holy Spirit will enable us to bear witness to Christ and stand faithful to his truth in every circumstance of our interaction with a sometimes hostile world. In the Sacrament of Marriage, the spouses are not the only ones making oaths. God makes an oath, that he will provide every ounce of grace and strength they will need to be faithful.
And he makes the oath that he is coming back. The Gospel makes it clear that Christ will return, as really and truly as when he came the first time. At this second coming, which will occur on a day and at a time that nobody knows, all our trust will be rewarded and all our hope fulfilled. Total freedom from darkness, sin, and death will be ours, with the resurrection of the dead, and the final separation of good from evil. All the good that has been done but unacknowledged will be rewarded; the evil that has been done and not corrected will be set right.
On that day, not only will we be called to rejoice in this liberation, but we will be asked to give an account of our trust, and of how that trust shaped our daily lives. Did we live in a way that showed we trusted in ourselves and our worldly security (possessions, reputation, worldly cunning, etc.) rather than in the one who swore an oath that he would set us free? Did we always try to fix things ourselves, even if it meant resorting to lying, cheating, or stealing, or did we do what was right, with trust in God for what we couldn’t fix? The Culture of Death is one in which our society resorts even to the taking of life by abortion and euthanasia in order to fix things in its own eyes, rather than trusting in the God who makes and fulfills promises.