"The One Who Made the Promise Was Trustworthy" - Faith of Our Fathers
The construction of a cathedral is more than just a building project. For the community who builds it, it is an act of faith – faith that this structure will stand as a house of God for many future generations. Therefore, whether it is completed or not is not the most important thing for that community. Rather, it is the solid foundation of faith upon which they have built that matters the most. The National Cathedral in Washington took 83 years to complete; St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome took 120 years; Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has taken 137 years, and it still is not finished! Notre Dame in Paris took 200 years to finish, the cathedral in Mexico City was 240 years in the making, and the Cathedral of Toledo in Spain took 266 years from start to finish.
My point here is that the people who first set out to build these treasures of faith did so knowing that they would never see it completed. However, they also started building knowing that future generations of their families would see it finished, and they would be able to worship and praise the Lord in the church that they helped to start. Their children and grandchildren would celebrate their joys and sorrows within those walls. Countless generations of families would encounter the Lord at that altar.
That is faith. Faith is directed first and foremost toward God, not ourselves or our own glory. And if our faith is properly directed to God, it can accomplish some incredible things. Our Second Reading tells us about Abraham as a model of faith and trust in God: “He thought that the one who made the promise was trustworthy,” and therefore, “he went out, not knowing where he was to go”– but he went out nevertheless – with faith.
How many of us have done just this? How many of us have left home – or what was comfortable for us – and gone in pursuit of a promise? Isn’t this exactly what our faith calls us to? Doesn’t Jesus promise us something new and altogether unseen? We know that “Faith is … evidence of things not seen,”and this faith is simply a gift from God.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord is calling us. He is calling us to a new land – new territory. He is calling us to build His Church and to share His life and love with our community. In our time, this might seem like a frightening task. We don’t know how we will be received; we don’t even know where we are going at times; we don’t know what this will look like in the end.
However, like the faith of those who built the beautiful cathedrals in which Catholics continue to worship, we share a confidence in the goodness of God. That is the treasure that we are to pursue. Here in our own community, we have challenges. We must build a church – not a building, but a community of faith and hope and love. It is that community, founded on faith, that will build a new church. But faith comes first; it always comes first.
Throughout our lives, many challenges arise that can shake our faith. The terrible shootings that are becoming too regular in our country, the harsh rhetoric against newcomers, the difficulties of disease and suffering – all of these can test our hearts and try our faith. Jesus knows this. Jesus loves us and wants us to trust Him. He knows that where we place our hearts is where we can find our comfort. “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”Friends, where is your heart? What is your treasure?
We all stand here today having received the gifts of someone else’s faith. Our trust in the Lord is the result of someone else’s love for us. Now, we must ask ourselves, whom will our faith benefit?
As we establish our faith firmly on Jesus and His love for us, we know that we are building the Church. No matter how long it takes, our faithful efforts – directed to the glory of God – will provide a space for future generations to encounter Jesus here in our community. We are exactly like those faithful Christians who built the magnificent cathedrals we now know. They placed their treasures in the kingdom of heaven, and their hearts were always there. Today, we too must place our treasures in God’s hands – with faith and trust that He will bring us to where He has promised.