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SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - The Awesome Gift of Faith

By Fr. James Farfaglia
July 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Many of our contemporaries do not feel that they need God and therefore, they do not have a firm trust in God.  Independence and self-sufficiency are the problem.  Contemporary man thinks that he can do it on his own.   

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - In this Sunday's first reading from the Book of Genesis, Abraham is in need and he approaches God on behalf of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  "While Abraham's visitors walked on farther toward Sodom, the Lord remained standing before Abraham.  Then Abraham drew nearer and said: 'Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?'" (Genesis 18: 22).

Abraham goes to God because he has a need.  Abraham feels confident that he can approach God because he trusts that God will listen to him. 

His trust is well described with this Sunday's responsorial psalm: "Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me" (Psalm 138).

Need and trust.  These are two fundamental components regarding man's relationship with God and they are expressed so clearly by Jesus in this Sunday's Gospel passage.

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened" (Luke 11: 9-10).

Here is a story that might be helpful.  

The Mississippi River was flooding its banks, and the waters were rising swiftly around Clem\'s house. The waters had gotten to the level of the front porch where Clem was standing when a man in a rowboat came by and called to Clem, \"Hop in and I\'ll take you to high ground.\" Clem replied, \"No, my God will save me!\"

The river continued to rise to the second story windows and Clem, looking out, saw a powerboat come up. The man in the powerboat called to Clem, \"Hop in and I\'ll take you to high ground.\" Clem replied, \"No, my God will save me!\"

The river had now risen to the roof of the house. Clem was sitting on the ridge at the top of the house with the waters swirling around his feet. He saw a helicopter fly over, and the people inside yelled over a bull horn, \"Grab the rope and climb in, and we\'ll take you to high ground.\" Clem replied, \"No, my God will save me!\"

The river continued to rise.  Finally the flood waters engulfed the house and Clem was drowned. The next thing he knew, Clem was standing before his God. In anger, he asked God, \"I put my trust in you. Why have you forsaken me?\" And his God replied, \"What do you want from me? I sent you a rowboat, a powerboat, and a helicopter!\" (http://www.inspiration.com )

What causes contemporary man from having a deep relationship with God?

Many of our contemporaries do not feel that they need God and therefore, they do not have a firm trust in God. 

Independence and self-sufficiency are the problem.  Contemporary man thinks that he can do it on his own.  How sad. 

In his first encyclical letter, Pope Francis said: "Our culture has lost its sense of God's tangible presence and activity in our world. We think that God is to be found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed from our everyday relationships. But if this were the case, if God could not act in the world, his love would not be truly powerful, truly real, and thus not even true, a love capable of delivering the bliss that it promises. It would make no difference at all whether we believed in him or not. Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God's tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ's passion, death and resurrection" (Lumen Fidei, 17). 

The Year of Faith that we are celebrating provides for all of us a perfect opportunity to renew the gift of faith and to grow deeper in our personal relationship with God. 

"Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us.  Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time" (Lumen Fidei, 4).

What then should our spiritual life look like?  In my book Get Serious: A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics, I suggest different levels of prayer that we can incorporate into our busy daily lives.  Let us consider these different levels of prayer. 

Level One
Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours or the monthly magazine "The Magnificat"
15 minutes of meditation - use a small text from the Bible, or a chapter from My Daily Bread or The Imitation of Christ
Daily Rosary
Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours or "The Magnificat" with a brief examination of conscience
Sunday Mass
Monthly Confession and whenever necessary

Level Two
Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours or the monthly magazine "The Magnificat"
15 minutes of meditation - use a small text from the Bible, or a chapter from My Daily Bread or The Imitation of Christ
Daily Rosary
Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours or "The Magnificat" with a brief examination of conscience
Daily Mass
Monthly Confession and whenever necessary
Annual Retreat

Level Three
Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours or the monthly magazine "The Magnificat"
30 minutes of meditation - use a small text from the Bible, or a chapter from My Daily Bread or The Imitation of Christ
Daily Rosary
Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours or "The Magnificat" with a brief examination of conscience
Daily Mass
Monthly Confession and whenever necessary
Annual Retreat

My dear friends, this Sunday's second reading from Saint Paul's letter to the Colossians reminds us of the awesome gift of baptism.  It is through the Sacrament of Baptism that we have received the awesome gift of faith.  The gift of faith that we have received through baptism, launches us into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

When we consider the giants of the Old Testament such as Abraham, Moses and all of the Prophets, we can recall the words of Jesus when he affirmed: "But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear!  I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it" (Matthew 13: 16-17).

It is through faith that we see and it is through faith that we hear.  During this Year of Faith, let us remove from our lives whatever might cause us to become spiritually blind and deaf. 

On Wednesday, Pope Francis chose to include in his visit to Brazil, a special Mass at the country's most famous Marian shrine, the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida.  

During his homily the Holy Father said: "If we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new wine which Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy.

Christians are joyful, they are never gloomy. God is at our side. We have a Mother who always intercedes for the life of her children. ... Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father.

Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning. If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will light up with a joy that spreads to everyone around us."

Visit Fr. James Farfaglia on the web at www.fatherjames.org and listen to the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.  

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