Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 7, 2022
In the First Reading from the Book of Wisdom we hear references to the night of passover. Passover was then, and is now, one of the most important holidays in the Jewish faith. It served as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to Israel, his chosen people, and it pointed to the coming of the Lamb of God, the Messiah, who was to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. God commanded his chosen people to observe the Feast of Passover from generation to generation. This night commemorated the liberation of the Israelites from enslavement to the Egyptians. The night of Passover required the people to put their faith in the promises of Yahweh, to have courage, to prepare themselves for the destruction of their foes, and for the salvation that they awaited.
As baptized Catholics, we are the Lord’s chosen people. “Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own,” Psalm 33 states. Yes, we truly are blessed. Today, we await a similar deliverance; ours is a deliverance, not from enslavement to Pharaoh, but to Satan and all his empty promises and the sin he lures us into. As Psalm 33 proclaims, “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and shield.”
Our faith in the Lord, the trust we have in his promises will be put to the test. The Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us of that. Here we see how Abraham was tested by the Lord’s asking him to leave the land of his fathers and sojourn into a new land; in his trust in the promise that his barren wife Sarah would bear a son; and in the test of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
The Gospel reading for today has several messages contained within it. The first revolves around our pursuit of earthly possessions instead of storing up heavenly treasures. We are often so preoccupied and anxious about the things of this world that we forget about pursuing the treasure of the next, "an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy." We fall into another trap of pursuing every little entertainment and escapism to compensate such dedication. All the while, we easily forget about our real purpose and the real relationship we ought to be fostering each day with God our Father who loves us and "is pleased to give you the kingdom."
The second message of the Gospel reading is one of preparation, of having faith, and of being on-guard for the thief that may come in the night. There are hints of the night of passover in the Gospel reading. Much like the Israelites in the Old Testament who prepared a passover lamb, lit candles, and placed blood on their doorposts, we are being asked to “gird our loins and light our lamps.” We are awaiting the return of our master, Jesus Christ. We have faith in his promise to return for us either to bring us into our own passover into eternal life or at his second coming. We are encouraged to guard the “home” of our hearts with his grace, so that Satan does not steal our joy.
Today’s theme is one of commemoration of Christ’s paschal sacrifice and his offering of himself as our Passover lamb – a sacrifice we can participate in in the Eucharist. We are being challenged to put the fears and anxieties of this world aside and be resolute in our faith in the Lord’s promise of eternal life and the treasures stored for us in heaven. We are being reminded of our need to prepare ourselves for the time that Christ comes for us individually or appears in the skies at the second coming.
Theme in our Life Today
The challenge in our lives is to remain vigilant as we wait our master’s return. That is difficult to do in our world. There is so much noise, so many distractions, and so many temptations. It is easy to forget to light our lamps; to be actively awaiting the return of our master. We are susceptible to the thief who comes in the night.
To Prepare for this Sunday’s Liturgy, consider the following:
Where is your focus in life – on earthly possessions or on heavenly treasures? What is the proper balance in providing for our needs in this life and preparing for the life to come?
How can you remain vigilant for the master’s return? Do you have a spiritual plan for life? If yes, how can it be strengthened? If not, how can you get started?