30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
October 27, 2013
I have competed well, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.
These are the words Paul writes to Timothy as this letter draws to a close. Paul was a passionate Apostle for Jesus. As Paul writes to Timothy, he has been under house arrest. He continues to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through letters like this. He knows his life will be given in martyrdom soon. As he looks back on his ministry, he has no regrets. He speaks confidently. I have competed well, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.
This same reading is sometimes used at the funeral of a faithful person. When someone dies, we like to remember the good things they did. When a person has lived a faithful life, this reading can be very appropriate.
But we are not here today for a funeral. Our Sunday celebration is not about death but new life, new life shown to us in the Resurrection.
So what message can we hear in this reading today that is appropriate for each and every one of us today? None of us has finished the race. We do not finish until death.
We don’t have to wait for death to decide if we are living well. We can ask ourselves each day, have I competed well, have I kept the faith.
Paul lived his live as a sacrifice, a libation, for Jesus. Do we?
Paul proclaimed the gospel. Do we?
Paul knew that even when others abandoned him, the Lord was at his side. Do we?
How well have we learned our faith? How well have we lived our faith?
When we are asked about learning our faith, our thoughts often zip back to our childhood with Sunday school or Catholic school. People often think that once we receive Confirmation, we have learned all we need to. Then our faith may go by the wayside for a while.
When we get “old”, we start thinking about our faith more. People ask why there are so many old people in church. Because they are studying up for the final exam!
Thinking about the end of our life puts faith into a different perspective.
As children we learn our faith as “rules” and “facts”. The “rules”, centered on the Ten Commandments are important. The “facts”, like that Jesus died on the Cross so that our sins might be forgiven out of love are important.
We should never think we have learned it all. Confirmation is not graduation. We have 18 people receiving Confirmation in a couple of weeks but that will not end their faith learning.
That’s why I preach each Sunday, to help us learn and grow in faith. It’s why I have been doing presentations about our faith. In the past, Sr. Edna offered sessions for adults and Pat will be doing the same in future.
But I would like to take a moment to focus on two particular age groups. Today is World Youth Day. We think of youth as our teenagers but the Church also includes 18-35 year olds here.
Our youth and our young adults are at a crucial point in their lives. Our youth are in that stage of life of moving from just following “rules” to asking “why?” When no one is around to answer why, faith can diminish.
Our young adults are moving out on their own, establishing lives for themselves. If faith doesn’t seem relevant, it isn’t a priority and falls off the radar.
We want to support our youth and our young adults. Of course, we have our parish school and our religion program that we refer to as FAMBRE but as our children outgrown that age group, we have our middle school youth group with fourteen members. We have eighteen in our senior high youth group. I’m happy to say we have fourteen youth going to the National Catholic Youth Conference.
We have also been working to develop activities for our young adults. Back in January, we started having some events geared to our young adults. We are now started some activities to support the parents in our parish.
These activities are all geared to make our faith relevant. It is good that we have but there are a lot of people in these age groups that don’t come than do.
To our youth who aren’t in our youth groups, know you are welcome. They’ll be meeting about 11:45 over at the school. If you are in our youth groups, bring a friend.
There are also more young adults in our parish than come. Think about it.
If you aren’t in these age groups, pray for those who are to come.
As to all of us, may we always live our faith in all we do that we can say the words of Paul, I have competed well, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.