The power of faith: A homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

faithAs you know, I have just returned from a few weeks away.  I was in Mexico for three weeks.  There I learned more Spanish and also served at a few parishes there. Then I led a pilgrimage to the holy lands of Canada and visited many shrines, basilicas, cathedrals, and incredible churches there.  I didn’t realize there was so much in Canada!  It was an amazing trip.

You know, I visited a lot of incredible places, both in Mexico and in Canada.  We are talking about some incredible churches.  Santa Prisca in Taxco was built in gold before the US was founded, and it still stands beautiful today.  The cathedral in Cuernavaca is in the center of the city and takes up three buildings.  The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was flooded with 150,000 people the weekend I went, and there are about 10 majestic churches all in a one mile radius around there.  In Canada we visited the largest building built in honor of St Joseph in the world. We visited Notre Dame, Saint Anne’s, and the resting place of several saints.  These places, their beauty is beyond the telling of it.

I got to thinking while there about the faith that built it all.  Can you imagine how difficult it must have been, simply to lay the bricks?  And yet it was done. People sacrificed more than we could imagine for it to happen. The churches were built with their blood and sweat. And they stand today.  It was amazing.

While in the midst of such great sites, I got to praying: Lord, give us just a portion of the love and the passion those people had for their church and for their God!  Can you imagine how strong our church would be if we had just an ounce of that love and passion our ancestors had which built all these incredible places?!  My God it would be amazing!

The power of faith–to construct buildings, but more importantly lives and families–it is an incredible thing!  Hebrews tells us the same today in our second reading.  It has this beautiful litany of what happened for Abraham by the power of his faith…By faith, it says, by faith…..

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate,
even though he was past the normal age
—and Sarah herself was sterile—
for he thought that the one who had made the promise was
trustworthy.

I wonder, at the end of our lives, what that litany might look like.

By faith I followed God into places that I did not know, in directions I never imagined I would go
By faith I overcame this or that addiction
By faith I raised my children to be good men and women
By faith I volunteered at church and made a difference
By faith ….. by faith….

Faith is powerful!  Today we pray for an increase in our faith. We pray that we will be driven by the same love of God and his church that inspired the greatest saints to do all they did. We pray that our faith will move mountains and build up our families, our church, our country, our world.