As I looked at the readings this morning, I was struck by one line in the Letter to the Hebrews – “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (HEB 11:2). This weekend, I traveled with colleagues to Grand Coteau, LA to see 12 young men take their first vows as a Jesuit. We go to Vow Day once a year, and it is always a beautiful and meaningful liturgy. This year, I felt an even stronger connection to the liturgy as I knew several of the young men taking vows.
Right before communion, the young men gathered, kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to declare their vows. And each of them, gazing intently at the Body of Christ, recited with conviction their perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They read each line of the short paragraph before them slowly and with tremendous care as if each word unlocked just a little more of God’s grace. Watching them felt like witnessing an intimate conversation between each young man and God. And I found myself wondering – When was the last time God and I had a conversation like that?
The statement they read ends with the words “and that just as you gave me the grace to desire and offer this, so you will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.” This is the faith spoken about in the Letter to the Hebrews today – the faith that allows us to jump in with both feet into the person God is calling us to be, even if we have no idea what is going to happen when we do. It is also the faith that allows us to feel with conviction that if we are becoming the person God is calling us to be, God will provide all we need.
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.
Here were twelve young men standing up before a crowd that spilled out beyond the church walls and jumping in with both feet saying that they were here, ready and willing to perpetually rely on God’s infinite goodness and mercy and serve the Church.
It is a difficult time in the Church. It is a difficult time in the world. Every day there is something new happening that can lead my heart to despair. It is such a tremendous temptation to allow that despair flow through me. But these young men, in this small church in rural Louisiana, reminded me that I have the choice to let something else flow through me instead – abundant grace and infinite mercy.
So today, I choose grace. And I pray you choose grace as well. Let us all have the courage to be the people God is calling us to be and pray for the grace to jump in every day with faith.