Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

Homily – August 8, 2010: Be Bold and Fearless

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NOTE: The next homily will be posted on September 12, 2010 – the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

19 Sunday Ordinary Time – August 8, 2010 – Be Bold and Fearless

Wisdom 18:6-9, Psalm 33:1,12, 18-19,20-22, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19, Luke 12:32-48

The complete biblical texts

No one of us is without fear of some sort. Along with the phobias we each might have about bugs, failing, terrorism, and people who are different, the weak economy devastates all of us. No class rich or poor is excused from this fear. How can today’s biblical texts help us tackle the things that worry us?

The overarching message today is to trust in God. This spiritual recipe is used to help many of us get through tough times. What does it mean to trust in a God who is invisible to us, a being who does not speak to us directly except in our imaginations? Does God work alone in the universe? Does God select whom to help? Is God closer than we think — a supreme being, yet willing to respect us and trust us to get things done?

The first reading speaks about a God who liberated people and ushered them into the land of endless possibilities – the land of milk and honey, the promised land. How did that happen? The leadership during that Passover experience fell to Moses and Miriam who took risks in confronting the Pharoah and mapping out an escape route. By the way, Moses probably would not have even been there if it weren’t for the courage and ingenuity of his big sister Miriam who saved him when he was a baby. (See Exodus 2:1-10) What a good example of how we look after one another.

The second reading tells about Abraham and Sarah, who lived long before the Egyptian captivity. They too were searching for the city of peace and justice –that end of the rainbow, that pot of gold — but did not know how to get there. They were sustained by their solidarity and their belief that God was trustworthy so their hope distilled their fear. It was not that God was their tour guide. (Don’t miss that mountain, turn left at the river.) Rather, it was their trust in God that propelled them to imagine the possibilities and to keep on going even in the face of fear.

Where would our religion be today without these ancestors who kept on going in spite of the odds against them? In our time where do we find such mutual support and solidarity for our convictions?

A key figure in the first text, the Book of Wisdom, is Sophia also known as Woman Wisdom. She was a mythic character believed at the time to play a major role in creation, in the organization of the universe and, in guiding human events. Sophia was considered an influential mediator, someone who bridged gaps in life. The author of this Book had a passion for Sophia who is depicted here as a reflection of God’s glory. [1]

This poses another question for us: Who do we know today is a reflection of God’s glory? Who are the fearless and wise leaders today, the women and men who take risks to help build the kin-dom of God? “Kin-dom” is a word we are using in celebrating our parish’s 125th anniversary. That kin-dom, we believe, is already here although quite incomplete. St. Vincent de Paul parish is a wonderful faith community but it is incomplete. We continue to search for that time and place where we live as sisters and brothers who take care of one another. [2] We dare to dream.

In the gospel Jesus told the disciples they did not have to be afraid of anything. Why? God makes the kin-dom possible and accessible so we need nothing more than to live with that certitude.  Jesus was living proof of this message. He took risks to courageously teach us that anything is possible if we believe in ourselves and trust in God. They go hand in hand. God’s expects us to trust in God’s creation. This gospel speaks to you and me about being ready to open the door when God come’s knocking.

Some people ask, “What am I suppose to do?” This gospel is an invitation 1) to keep alert to the world around us, 2) to tend to people in need, 3) to care for the planet we live on. If we can manage to do these things I think God will be quite pleased with us. It is a call to be hopeful and hospitable in the face of impossibilities. Like Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam we keep our eyes focused on what God is doing in universe. We boldly jump at the opportunity to help God by helping one another get over our fears. Like the Woman Wisdom, we believe we can guide the events of life to a peaceful and just place.
——

1 Winston, D. Revised by Tobin, T. “Wisdom of Solomon” in The Harper Collins Study Bible, Attridge, H. Editor (San Francisco: Harper, 2006, p. 1349-1350.

2 Isasi-Diaz, Ada Maria. “Solidarity: Love of Neighbor in the 1980s,” in Lift Every Voice: Constructing Christian Theologies from the Underside, edited by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite and Mary Potter Engel (San Francisco: Harper, 1990) 303-305

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Author: Richard S. Vosko

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, is an internationally known sacred space planner. He is a presbyter in the Diocese of Albany who enjoys the classroom as much as the pulpit. On Sundays he presides at worship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, NY. For more information on Vosko’s background, his projects, publications and speaking engagements please go to his website. For his homilies and occasional musings about religion, art and architecture go to his blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcomed there.

3 thoughts on “Homily – August 8, 2010: Be Bold and Fearless

  1. Fear is like a pair of glasses through which we look at life and the world around us. With fear all the world seems like a dangerous place, and it’s difficult to trust and reach out. The readings today reminded me of this, and the need to look out on the world with open eyes, uncolored by prejudice or expectations. To simply be in the moment so that I can see what needs to be done…and do it. Peace

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  2. Your homily answered some of the questions I have often wondered about. I still don’t understand why there is so much fear in the world. It is hard trying to trust in God but it is the only way to get through difficult times. Your Homily was very good.

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  3. I found this homily to be very beautiful and inspiring. I don’t even understand how jello works so the truth of how trust in God works is clearly really beyond me. I found this to be a comforting and simple framework that I can strive for. I pray for a trace of the wisdom of Sophia to take hold in my heart. thank-you Richard.

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