Friday, October 10, 2014

Faith Has Come

Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian.  For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:25-26

While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.”  He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”  Luke 11:27-28

Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.  Revelation 1:3

Faith has come.  Emmanuel has come.  The promise of Abraham is fulfilled. Now, that God has delivered on his promise, the ball is in our court.
Remember the promise that the Lord made to Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his only son:

“I swear by my very self—oracle of the LORD—that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your son, your only one, I will bless you and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants will take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth will find blessing, because you obeyed my command.”  Genesis 22:16-18

Like Abraham, we, too, will find blessing.  Abraham found blessing because his faith moved him to respond to the Lord’s call.  Jesus wants us to recognize that faith is essential but it is only the first step.  Faith opens our ears, our minds and our hearts to the message of the Lord. 

Appropriately, the first word of the Prologue of the Rule of Saint Benedict is “Listen.”  “Listen carefully my child.”  Before we being anything anew, St. Benedict advises us to turn to the Lord:  “…whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it, that He who has now deigned to count us among His children may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds.”  Only then can we observe it.  Our action, then, must be connected to our faith.

Observe is an interesting verb for the NAB translators to use at Luke 11:28.  “Observe” seems passive.  On one level, it just means to watch, notice, or see something.  However, on another deeper level, when we observe something, we conform our action or practice to a law, a ritual or a condition. On this level, we actively comply with the word by making it reflect our actions. “Serve” or service is at the root of observe. Observe also share the prefix root “ob” with obey meaning "toward," “in the way of,” “by reason of.”  When we listen, it moves us toward service. 

Another translation (The Jerusalem Bible) turns that phrase slightly differently in its translation:  “Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:28).  Even “keep” sounds like we are holding onto it for ourselves. 

IMHO the translators or The New Living Translation (admittedly not an official Catholic translation) get what I think Jesus means perfectly.  Jesus replied, "But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice."  This is closest in meaning to our NAB version of another phrase in Luke 8:21: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
In John 13:15-17, the propensity for turning faith into action is reinforced:  “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.  Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.”

Is it any wonder that our Cursillo tripod has a pillar in piety, study and action?

To what will you listen carefully today?  How will it spur you to action? 

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