19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. August 7, 2022.
Wis 18:6-9; Heb 11:1-2,8-19; Lk 12:32-48
Desire God more, conquer our fears
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom”
I lost my father and my two uncles one after another in the last seven months. Consequently, there is palpable fear and anxiety lingering in my extended family as we face the unknown, the mysterious, and the uncontrollable reality of death.
Jesus Christ speaks to all our fears in a powerful way, “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock.” Notice that He calls us “little flock,” and not “strong lions.” We are aptly called “little flock” because we cannot overcome the fears of life by our own power, wisdom, or ability. These fears bring us to face that utter helplessness that we just cannot dismiss by simply psyching ourselves.
We begin to overcome our fears only when we realize that we, the little flock, can have great desires. In short, our desires can be so great that we begin to share in God’s own desire for us. Thus, Jesus shows us that we overcome our fears when we grasp the immense that good God desires for us, “For your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” Because God’s greatest desire is for our eternal union with Him, He also desires to give us all that we need to belong to Him now and in His heavenly kingdom.
God desires us to be with Him. But how strong is our own desire to be with Him? We begin to conquer our fears when we begin to grow in our desire for God and the things that He desires for us. God continuously offers us this kingdom and invites us to embrace it. But merely believing in the kingdom does not imply that we will have the necessary desire to be a part of it.
Jesus points out to us three ways in which we can cultivate our desires for Him and the great things that He desires for us.
Firstly, we must become generous in meeting the needs of others, “Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, and inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.” We have little or no desire for heaven when we are busy accumulating wealth and living only for ourselves. How can we cultivate the desire for heaven when we are not using our resources now to foster healthy relationships with others? Our desire for heaven grows to the extent that we invest and sacrifice now for heavenly things, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
Secondly, we must be vigilant in waiting for the final coming of Christ to us. This vigilance demands that we seek out, welcome, and embrace only the things that keep our desire for God alive and strong e.g., intense prayer, selfless service, true repentance, spiritual reading, devotion to Mary, Mother of God, etc. On the other hand, we avoid and filter out the many lies and deceptions in our thoughts, words, and actions that negatively impact our faith, hope, and love. Only a truly vigilant soul will recognize and welcome Christ with enthusiasm, “Be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.”
Thirdly, we must be responsible and diligent in doing the will of God for His glory and for the good of our neighbors, “Who then is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.” Our intimacy with Jesus Christ increases when we do the will of God no matter the cost or consequences, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”(Mt 12:50) We cannot be intimate with Him when we are driven by our self-will alone. This intimacy with Jesus yields a great desire to be with Him forever in heaven and subsequently diminishes our fears in this life.
Jesus repeatedly asserts, “Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so,” to remind us that we must strive to be faithful to His will to the end of our lives. We are not called to run a perfect and flawless race in fidelity to His will. There will surely be failures and setbacks along the way. But we are called to run the race to the very end.
Abraham did not succumb to fears at all in his life and pilgrimage of faith because, above all things, he desired what God desired for him based on God’s promises to him. He was ready to leave the comfort and security of his home, “He went out, not knowing where he was to go.” Though he was old and his wife was sterile, he was ready to surrender his plan and embrace God’s plan for him, “By faith, he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age – and Sarah his wife was sterile – for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.” He was even willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, the child of the same promise. How powerful it is to believe in God’s promise and to set our hearts on what He promises us instead of holding on to the things we desire and prefer.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, unlike the inheritance that God promised to Abraham, the kingdom of God is not just a promise to us now. Jesus Christ has made it a reality that is present in our midst in a mysterious way. He is bestowing on us all that we need to be in that kingdom now and till our last breaths.
There will always be fears lingering in our hearts in this world. We experience fears of death, suffering, sickness, job loss, and failures in relationships. We experience fears about our church, the many scandals that plague it, the abandonment of the faith by many, and the widespread moral and doctrinal confusion. We are afraid as we face the prospects and reality of wars and more viruses. We are indeed always God’s little flock in a scary world.
But let us remember that this little flock can have great desires too. The little flock can still desire sanctity now and life with God in heaven because God never ceases to desire this for us. He will never force His kingdom on us but wants us to desire it too as He desires it for us, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Mt 6:33)
With our Eucharistic Lord rekindling our desire for His heavenly kingdom, let us also use the grace of each Eucharist to cultivate this desire for God and His kingdom and see how we begin to conquer our fears one at a time until Christ returns in glory or calls us home to His kingdom.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!