Father Donald Senior, CP

Aug. 11: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Restless Hearts

Wis 18:6-9; Ps 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22; Heb 11:1-2, 8-19; Lk 12:32-48

Some claim that everything there is to say about the spiritual life has already been said by St. Augustine, the remarkable fourth-century bishop of Hippo in northern Africa. An “exhibit A” of his enduring wisdom is his famous quotation from his “Confessions,” the magnificent account of his own spiritual journey: “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Augustine’s words came to mind as I reflected on the readings for this Sunday. Each of them is saturated with a deep longing for God, a longing that is not always clear and certain for us but expresses itself in the realization that few things in life fully satisfy our deepest desires. We long for more.

For example, the psalm response today is taken from Psalm 33 and speaks of Israel, God’s chosen people, as ones “who hope for his kindness.” Their souls “wait for the Lord, who is our help and our shield.” The psalmist prays earnestly, “May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our hope in you.”

The second reading today is from the Letter to the Hebrews, which makes only brief appearances in the Sunday lectionary. In this selection, the author (we are not sure who wrote this early Christian letter) speaks of “faith” as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” 

The passage goes on to reflect on the faith of Abraham, who was called by God to set out on a journey of faith but “not knowing where he was to go.” The author remembers that Abraham and Sarah faced a future without children, but God would supply them with unexpected life in the conception of their son Isaac. Abraham and his clan were “seeking a better homeland” and had to trust that God would lead them there.

The Gospel selection from Luke also resonates with this sense of the need to search for and trust in God. Jesus tells his disciples, “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” Everything else we own is transitory so ultimately we should place our trust in a treasure “that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.” 

Jesus urges his disciples to value this enduring treasure of God’s loving providence because “where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Putting all your energy and hope on things that will not endure or that cannot guarantee deep happiness is futile.

Jesus closes his teaching with a parable that stresses the need to be alert. Wise servants are to be prepared for the master’s sudden return from a wedding, even if he should arrive during the “second or third watch” of the night.

As we move along on our journey of life, I think most of us realize that not all our longings for joy, for love, for accomplishment can be fully met. Even as we are grateful for family and friends we love, for the work we have been able to do, for the many experiences that have brought joy to our hearts, we can still long for more. Not just for more, but that the people and things we treasure will not be lost. 

As we age and our strength inevitably diminishes, we become more aware that life is fragile and transitory. From the vantage point of faith, such a realization need not be fatalistic or frightening. It is here that Augustine’s words lift up what is a strong biblical motif and one that stands at the heart of our Christian faith.

While we commit ourselves fully to the beauty of the life God has given us here and now, we also trust, precisely because of that enduring divine love, that a “better homeland” lies before us — even when we can only glimpse it in hope.


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