19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
19th Sunday / Ordinary / C
August 6-7, 2016
St. Thomas Aquinas, Ames, Iowa
Fr. Jon Seda
This week I spent five days at Evangelization Training Camp. It was in a remote area of central Illinois. It was not the end of the world, but you could see it from there! Several hundred college students came from all over, from Louisiana to Michigan. I am happy that the largest group of students were from Iowa State University, with 25 of our students there. If anyone is pessimistic about the future of our Church, they have not met these students.
We are in an alliance relationship with the Evangelical Catholic because it helps us in our core mission, which is simple to bring people to Jesus, and bring Jesus to people. If all of our parish activities are not doing that, they might be nice or fun, but that is not what we are about. That is not our mission. I will admit that this is a different way than many of us have been taught about the mission of the Church. But evangelization is our deepest identity, and I see much good fruit when we embrace that.
One speaker this week made a comment that I wrote down because it struck me. He said that our culture today is characterized by an absence of hope. In a world where God is ignored, people will always lose hope. We see this everyday in the news, so much violence, so much addiction, so much fear. It is easy to lose hope and just focus on living a comfortable easy life, seeking the most pleasure and the least pain. Yet God has made us for so much more than this kind of life.
How we lose hope is we ignore God. How we recover hope is we rediscover God. And the Lord needs help. He needs you and he needs me. Our students get this, our parish is getting this, and I find this exciting.
We see great hope especially among our young people. We saw it a week ago at the World Youth Day in Krakow. There were a million and a half young people from all over the world celebrating Mass with Pope Francis, and yet did you see this on the news? If a million and a half young people did something wrong, now that would be on the news, but not this amazing gathering of hope. This is what I saw this past week at ETC. The young dream of and hope for a world where our marriages and families can be better, where our parish and our church can be better, where our country and our world can be better.
It seems this hope found in the young slowly erodes as we get older, unless we are being fed by the Lord through His Word and the Eucharist. Otherwise we become cynics. This week I read a great definition of a cynic. Cynics are people who have given up but yet shut up. When we become cynical, it is a good sign that we have ignored God and lost hope.
In the second reading for Mass today, Abraham and Sarah are held up to us as people of hope. The Lord called them from the security of a comfortable life to a new place and they had no idea where that was. But they trusted the Lord's promise to them to make them parents of a multitude of people, of a great nation, even though they were childless and very old.
Their hope was rooted not in themselves but in God's promise. Their hope was not in what they could do but what the Lord would do. Their hope was that against all odds against them, if they obeyed God, He would do something great in their lives.
We need more Abrahams and Sarahs in our Church and world today. It is so easy to criticize and point out what is wrong today. Lots of people do that. What is more difficult and more needed is to be people of hope. This is to trust that if we obey God and do things His way instead of our way, things can be different, things can be better.
Cynics have never made anything better. They have given up but not yet shut up. I tell you that the students I was with this week are not cynics. They have placed their hope in the promises of God. They fully expect the Lord to do some great things on campus this year. May we join them in being people of hope.