September 22, 2020
Several years ago, I was asked to speak at an Evening of Reflection at Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis. The parish was celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year. Beforehand, we celebrated Mass together, and I had the opportunity to preach on the same readings we have today: Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13 and Luke 8:19-21.
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be a part of the inner circle of Jesus? To be among His chosen and to hang on His every word? To experience the intimacy enjoyed by His closest friends and family.
In today’s Gospel from Luke, Jesus extends that invitation to us when he says: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
Jesus could just have easily said, “Actions speak louder than words” or “Put your money where your mouth is.” Instead, He said, “Hear the word and act on it.”
In the first reading, from Proverbs, we heard: “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”
Those, then, are our marching orders: “Hear the word and act on it” and “Do what is right and just.” Believe and act.
What is in it for us? What is the pay-off? We become part of Jesus’ inner circle, His family…we are “His mother and brothers.”
Christ the King’s 75th anniversary theme is Believing, Learning, Serving. These are the words of a vibrant parish. They are presented as action words.
I can picture myself actively learning. I have an image that comes to mind when I hear serving – I can picture myself actively serving. But what does believing look like? How does a personal, somewhat passive word like believing make it onto your list of anniversary action words?
Believing is at the very core of our faith, isn’t it? “Happy are those who have not seen, and yet still believe.”
It makes your list of action words because if we are true believers, then we will put our beliefs, our faith, into action.
Scriptures are full of stories of people who heard the Word, but did nothing with it. They were not true believers; they were impostors. No one knew the Word of God better than the Pharisees. They could recite Scripture backward and forward. But their ability to believe went no further than that. It was not accompanied by action. The only action they took at all was questioning Jesus for healing the sick on the Sabbath or criticizing the disciples for their eating habits.
Mary was an active believer. Joseph was an active believer. Moses was an active believer. They heard the Word of God, and despite their own personal struggles or doubts, they responded with a “Yes” to what it was that God asked of them. Their faith translated into action.
Where do we land when it comes to our faith? How actively do we believe?We are probably somewhere in-between: We believe. We claim our faith and do our best to put that belief into action.
We are human, so we struggle through bouts of selfishness and battle our need to have control, and we stumble and fall.
But here is the good news: We will not be judged on how often we fall. We will be judged on whether or not we get back up and try again.
That is faith in action.
That is what believing looks like.