19th Sunday in Ordinary Time | August 11, 2019
Yesterday, right here at St. Anthony’s, I watched three of my brothers profess vows as Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.
It is a beautiful ceremony.
Each man lying on the ground as the entire community prays for them.
Each man holding a candle, reciting the words that will forever change their lives.
I give myself with my whole heart to this religious family.
Each man receiving a profession cross that has been passed down from generation to generation, linking us with our fathers in faith who walked this journey long before us.
And as I watched these men, I couldn’t help but think back to my own first vows.
There I was, 24 years old, giving my entire self to this religious family.
And now, 10 years later, I have to admit.
I had no idea what I was doing.
See, I thought I did. I thought I understood exactly what that yes entailed.
But my journey these last ten years have shattered any illusions I once possessed.
Maybe that is why I feel such a connection with Abraham as recalled in our second reading.
For like Abraham, my yes has brought me far into unknown lands.
It has demanded sacrifices I never thought I could make or would ever have to
It has brought me into the valley of the shadow of death.
It has brought forth new life in remarkable, unforeseen ways.
And with each passing year, I have had to learn what Abraham understood so well.
Which is that faith means that we need to let go of a lot.
We need to let go of our need to be right.
We need to let go of our need for certainty.
We need to let go of our expectations that we will see all of our seeds produce a harvest.
We need to let go of our need for control. To know what comes next.
For that is what it means to place our lives in the hands of God.
To allow ourselves to be carried far from home. Far from comfort zones.
Even while we are still afraid. Even while we still question.
Into the lands that are still promised to us.
My friends, every time we gather here as Church, we are invited once again to say yes. To say Amen to the God who invites us into the land prepared for us.
And this is difficult.
Because we don’t want to rely on faith. We want to know.
We want to know that our faith, our religion is right. That we have cast our lot with the winning team.
We want to believe that if we complete a given checklist then we our guaranteed to experience the fruits of the promised land. That if we say enough rosaries, attend enough masses, or give enough money we can force God’s hand.
Blessings in this life and eternal life in the next.
We want a God that acts in accordance with our will. We want a God made in our image and likeness. We craft God into an idol who simply confirms our own fears, our own prejudices, our own dislikes.
But this is not what is promised us.
Instead, we are asked to walk out in faith. Into the unknown. Trusting that the path we take will lead us ever deeper into relationship with God in and through one another.
That in the process, we will be transformed into women and men of faith. Women and men who shine like the stars, radiating hope, compassion, joy and love into the world.
So today, let us say our yes. Let us stand before our God, watchful and ready for where we will be guided.
Amen. Amen. May God be Praised.