Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
In Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings,’ the great battle for Middle Earth is fought between the world of men and the dark Lord, Sauron. The world of men is made up of various races, including the People of Rohan. Just before they ride off to join the war, knowing that the end was upon them, the young warrior leader of the Rohirrim, Éomer, makes a short but rousing speech to the gathered army. He says to them: "Now is the hour, Riders of Rohan, to remember the oaths you have taken! Now, fulfill them all!"
It’s the kind of rallying-cry designed to inspire even the most timid of hearts. Are we not all prone to making promises of fine actions and noble deeds? And when the need arises, are not such promises the very things we call upon to fortify us? We need inspirational ideas to motivate, and often enough such ideas come as a result of an inspirational experience. Later today, you might want to recall some inspirational experience you’ve had, and reflect on how it has come to motivate you.
Jesus began today’s gospel passage with the words: “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit.” At the heart of Jesus’ message of salvation is the promise of belonging to God’s eternal Kingdom.
This is the treasure which awaits all who commit themselves to Christ and who pledge themselves to the way of the cross. This commitment, this pledge or promise, is what we call faith, and the treasure that faith points us toward is called hope. As the second reading put it: Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for.
The true sign of a Christian is their faith – the oath they take to live according to life in Christ. Faith is both the location of Christ’s promise to always be with us, and the sign that that promise is being fulfilled even now. Faith enables us to see in mere bread and wine the invisible reality of God’s abiding presence – the bread of life and the cup of salvation.
Faith enables us to recognize in the Ten Commandments the true and complete way in which to live our lives to the full. Faith is both the inspiration by which we stand ready in life, and the treasure that we seek to share with others. Christian faith – faith in the person of Jesus Christ and his message given to the Church – is the kind of oath we can put our trust in, and from which we can joyfully take courage.
When an adult catechumen stands up to be initiated into the Christian life, he or she is asked one question: “What do you seek?” And they are to answer: “Faith”. In our time and culture where Christian faith is no longer treasured as the great hope for humanity’s future, we who have made oaths of faith – those of us who choose to live by the promise of baptism – have all the more need to take up our oaths with courage and resolve. May we stand strong with Christ. Oaths of faith we have taken, may we fulfill them all!