With all the material in this coming Sunday's gospel for preachers to work with, it's possible that the second reading of the day may go unnoticed. For that reason, and others, I'm grateful to have come across a timely reflection on Sunday's passage from Hebrews, from John Kavanaugh, SJ.
Sometimes, when facing our most perplexing problems, we need to let go of the very thing we're convinced will help us resolve whatever the dilemma might be. What we pray for and hold on to might be just the thing we need to surrender.
Perhaps Kavanaugh's story will strike a chord in your history as it does in mine.
What is faith? The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.”For the other scriptures you'll hear this weekend, for commentary on them and for tips to help children prepare to hear the word, see this earlier post.
It is not a function of organic vision. Rather, it is an act of seeing in trust.
Long ago, when I spent a month working at the “house of the dying” in Calcutta, I sought a sure answer to my future. On the first morning I met Mother Teresa after Mass at dawn.
She asked, “And what can I do for you?” I asked her to pray for me. “What do you want me to pray for?” I voiced the request I had borne thousands of miles: “Pray that I have clarity.”
She said no. That was that.
When I asked why, she announced that clarity was the last thing I was clinging to and had to let go of. When I commented that she herself had always seemed to have the clarity I longed for, she laughed: “I have never had clarity; what I’ve always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust.”
Thus Mother Teresa became for me a member of that cloud of witnesses to which the Letter to the Hebrews refers: heroes of faith, who had conviction about things unseen.
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