12th Sunday after Pentecost 27.8.17 Word and Deed
The challenge to us as Catholics is to live out in reality what we believe in the abstract.
It is easy to imagine good things like a perfect world where everyone is friendly, honest and kind, and there is not an angry word spoken all day.
We find that reality falls so far short of this. Yet we believe the gap between reality and belief can be closed.
In the Church we have word and sacrament. The word tells us what is in Heaven, and what ought to be on earth.
The sacraments bring Heaven to the earth, and begin to transform reality as we have it.
So we feel good when we go to Confession or Holy Communion, for example. We are not just thinking about good things; we actually receive them.
We feel better, and we behave better.
Our religion is not just words or concepts, all hot air as some would have it; but actually translates into action.
If we find a man lying bruised and battered by the side of the road we help him.
It is at such times we find how committed we are. We think we are loyal and faithful disciples, but when put to the test we may not come through as well as we expected.
The Master we follow will make us stronger disciples.
We ask Him, in the first place, not to give us too many hard situations to deal with!
If something difficult does come upon us, to give us the grace needed to deal with it, to rise to the occasion.
We do not know our own depths, either good or bad. What we can say for certain is that we will be strengthened by prayer and sacraments, and thus be far more likely to come up with the right response when the test arises.
So we do not just talk about feeding the hungry, but actually feed them; not just talk about justice, but live justly.
We learn from books, and can learn a lot from holy books; but our faith has always been orientated to the practical. If we cannot make it happen there is something missing.
The grace of God, working in us, will carry us over the divide between theory and practice.
By this grace, whatever is commanded is also made appealing.
With the help of grace we will think the right thoughts, and want the right outcomes. Our affections will be properly ordered.
We reach a point where we want to help the ‘man by the side of the road’, more than we want our own comfort. This much the saints demonstrate to us, always wanting to do more in the Lord’s service, even if it meant more suffering.
We might say we will never be so advanced as the saints, but if we let God take possession of our hearts and minds we will change.
The part-time Catholic never sees this and begrudges even the most minimal observance.
For us, who do seek to go more deeply, it is still possible to be just drifting, not fully engaging with the presence of God.
It is easy to relegate our faith to a corner of our lives. Given that we are dealing with God Himself it has to be the central issue. Anything else we do has to fit in around this most important of realities.
We still do other things, like getting married, going to work, buying and selling - but the perspective is always from God's point of view.
We are dealing not just in ideas but actual reality. We make the ideas happen and this gives our words more authority, and our actions more power.
All of which makes a stronger Church, which is good for us and everyone else, as we hope they will come to know.