Wis 18:6-9; Heb 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48
It’s August. School’s back in session. Summer’s ending. Winter’s coming. The church in the gospel is pointing to the “end times.” But there is great hope.
The lovely opening line proclaims: Christ wants to give us the Kingdom. But we need to be faithful to the particular work that Christ has given us to do. For all of us, the mission involves serving: our service of the Gospel is called evangelizing. The Church exists in order to evangelize (Evangelii Nuntiandi), and all of us participate in the work of evangelizing, today the New Evangelization. We evangelize by our good deeds, “the distribution of food,” in today’s gospel. In his encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), Pope Francis says: “Anyone who sets off on the path of doing good to others is already drawing near to God.”
Today’s gospel exhorts us to be vigilant for Christ’s coming, to expect it daily, not just at the end times: His coming is not just an experience of Christ judging; it’s also an experience of Christ strengthening. [He strengthened Abraham for his mission and it led to great generativity. Today’s gospel message also follows last Wednesday’s Feast of the Transfiguration. This reminds us that our lives are transfigured by Christ’s radiance. Pope Francis says in Lumen Fidei, “For those who have been transformed in this way, a new way of seeing opens up, faith becomes light for [the] eyes….[A]ll things have a certain transparency, that they can reflect God’s goodness.” But] we must be vigilant. “Light your lamps.” Expect his return, daily. I think of Dorothy Day who founded The Catholic Worker movement in New York City on the edge of Greenwich Village, serving alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, the poor and those down on their luck. She served them generously there and later, in other cities across the United States. She also loved the opera, and she listened to the radio broadcast each Saturday afternoon from New York’s Metropolitan Opera. One day someone came upon her, alone, listening. She appeared transported, transfigured.
Each of us has a susceptibility to beauty. For each of us, it is different. God knows it, and God uses it to reach each of us. We must be vigilant for his coming in these moments. Why? They renew our faith, our hope in things unseen, as the Letter to the Hebrews tells us today. Dorothy Day loved to quote Dostoevsky who said: ‘The world will be saved by beauty.’ Yes, we are strengthened, transformed by beauty – if we let it touch us, transfigure us — because it is an image of God’s beauty. We in Mercer County are fortunate because we are surrounded by beauty. Christ is the source of that beauty. Then strengthened, transfigured, we preach it in service–in deeds. That’s evangelizing.
Being vigilant involves gazing upon the beauty of God where Christ breaks in, transfiguring our reality, daily. Pope Francis says that the religious person “Strives to see signs of God in the daily experiences of life, in the cycle of the seasons.” The beauty of summer, soon ending, makes this seeing easier. We must store up these experiences against the harsh, cold winter, coming soon. This is what Dorothy Day did with her Saturday operas. What is it for you? For busy parents? We must be alert to these experiences. “Light your lamps.” Why? Because they strengthen us for mission, for evangelizing – in the family, in Mercer County, Boyle County or wherever you go.
If we remain alert, when Christ comes, at the end time, he will recognize himself in us because we will have evangelized for the Kingdom through our deeds that light the lamps of others. That’s evangelizing. That’s being vigilant.