God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

(Homily for Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C)

Bottom line: We can place our trust in God because he cares for us and he acts. He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.

I received a nice compliment when I got back from Peru. Someone said I look like our new archbishop, Peter Sartain. Then she added, "Archbishop Sartain looks like he could be your nephew!"

Well, it's always good to have one's perspective adjusted. I'd like to begin with a man who did just that...

You may have heard of the French mathematician and physicist, Blaise Pascal. He was a child prodigy. While still a teenager, he invent a calculating machine that is considered the earliest forerunner of the modern computer.* When Pascal was thirty-one years old, he experienced a profound religious conversion. He realized that God is not only a necessary being who created the universe, but Someone who acts in human history. He wrote these words on a piece of parchment: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He sewed those words on the inside of his coat and each time they wore away, he replaced them - right up to the time of his death.**

Those words give a wonderful, powerful insight into God. He is not abstract, somewhere up in the heavens. No, God cares about humans and he acts in our history. When they asked Jesus about the future life, whether the dead rise, he replied with the words addressed to Moses from that small burning tree: "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." That is the basis for our hope of a future life. God cares for us; he acts.

This should give us confidence in the midst of all the setbacks and discouragement we often experience. You know, when Columbus was crossing the Atlantic Ocean, his men reached a point where they were ready to mutiny and turn back. Early in the morning they heard a shout that changed everything, "Land, land." When we feel discouraged we need to say to others and to hear our hearts, "heaven, heaven." It will not be long. Any trial, any sacrifice will seem small.

I think of one of the Mexican martyrs, St. Augustine Caloca. A newly ordained priest, he was arrested together with an older priest names Fr. Christopher Magallanes (Mah-guy-YA-nez). In a summary trial, the government condemned them to public execution before a firing squad. An official told them they could avoid death by renouncing their faith. On the morning of the execution, the younger priest saw the firing squad prepare their rifles. He began to have second thoughts. Perhaps he did want to die so young. The older priest said to him, “Animo. Take courage. Soon we will be together in heaven.”

On May 25, 1927, Frs. Christopher and Fr. Augustine did die together. They were also canonized together by Pope John Paul in the year 2000. They give us an example of courage and surrender to God’s will. They can help us look at our lives in light of eternity. Soon we will be together in heaven.

Some people consider this viewpoint to be defeatist: That instead of trying to make things better here on earth we will spend all our time thinking about heaven. But, ironically, those who think about heaven are often the ones who do the greatest good for their fellow human beings here on earth. In our country, the most effective hospitals, schools, homes for the outcast were built by people like St. Frances Cabrini – a religious sister who lived each day in the hope of eternal life.

Or Blaise Pacal. The computer, of course, is a mixed blessing. But who would go back to the days of the manual typewriter? Pascal also invented the hydraulic press and the syringe. His mathematical work laid the basis for infinitesimal calculus. A man who had his heart set of God made significant contributions to human betterment. He knew what matters most: God - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God who cares and who acts.

This applies beautifully to our focus this month - Stewardship. We can place our trust in God because he cares for us and he acts. He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. Like St. Augustine Caloca, we can hear those words, "Take courage. Soon we will be together in heaven." Amen.

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*In honor of his pioneering work, an early programming language bears his name. Developed in the late sixties and published in 1970, Pascal provided the foundation for the work of Bill Gates, Paul Allan, Steve Jobs and the others who developed the personal computer.

**Source: Gianfranco Rasavi, Segun las Escrituras (reflections on the Gospels, Cycle C), citing his work, "Memorial. In Memorial pascal has a passage entitle "Fire" where he writes: "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, not of philosophers. Certainty, feeling, joy, peace. The God of Jesus Christ. My God and your God. Your God will be my God. Forget the world and everything in it, except God. He will not be found except in the paths indicated in the Gospel."

Spanish Version

From Archives (32nd Sunday, Year C):

2013: Returning First Fruits
2010: God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
2007: Putting God First
2004: Take Courage
2001: Reasons for Belief in Afterlife

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Sunday Homilies

Audio Files of Homilies

Parish Picture Album

(October 2010)

Evidence for God's Existence from Modern Physics (MP3 Audio File)

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Resources for Geography of Faith

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru

KRA's & SMART Goals (updated November 2013)

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