Ready for the Pilgrimage?
(19th Ordinary Sunday: Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48)
Brothers and sisters, are we ready?
Have you ever planned to leave home at a certain time for a special event, only to have last-minute delays? These can be due to unforeseen causes, or to our own procrastination.
As indicated in today’s first reading, the Hebrews in Egypt knew that their deliverance was at hand as they celebrated the first Passover meal. In Exodus 12, they were told to eat in haste, with staff in hand, sandals on their feet, and dressed for travel. They had to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. They were about to become a pilgrim people. Their hope was in God.
The Beautiful Lady of La Salette came to renew her people’s hope in the midst of a desperate situation. She didn’t just say, “Everything will be all right.” Rather, her message is that of today’s Psalm: “See, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.”
In the Gospel Jesus tells his disciples, “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.” This is not about Christ’s second coming, but about our availability to respond when he calls.
This same spirit appears in our second reading. Abraham’s faith is presented as a model. At La Salette, Mary came to revive her people’s faith.
At the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples: “Sell your belongings and give alms... For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” He is speaking of charity. This term has two meanings. In ordinary usage, it means kindness, especially to the poor. In theological language, however, it refers to holy love, the greatest of all virtues, poured into our hearts by God. It is our inexhaustible treasure.
Mary did not speak of charity in her Apparition. Rather, she demonstrated holy love in her words, in her tears, her tenderness toward the children.
We can join our efforts to hers. For example, when we recite the rosary, we can offer a portion of it for an increase of faith, hope and charity, in ourselves first, and in all with whom we walk our pilgrim way.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.