Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 16, 2022

Today’s gospel ends with the Lord’s perplexing question, “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” I would like to focus my reflections on faith and obedience to God. Moses is the example of both faith and obedience that is given to us today.

Moses’s faith comes from his personal and close encounter with the God of his ancestors in the desert. In order to help Moses to be believed both by the Israelites and the Egyptians, God turns Moses’ staff into a serpent. Immediately, God orders Moses to take hold of the serpent’s tail. Moses obeys and God turns the serpent back into his staff. From that moment on, Moses puts all his trust in the Lord and obeys him faithfully. The staff of Moses becomes the staff of God.

The event of the battle against Amalek shows Moses’ great faith and obedience to God. Moses knows perfectly well what the staff of God can do. He knows that the power of God alone is what can protect his holy people from any adversary and assure their survival. Moses in his faith invents the gesture of standing above the battle with his arms uplifted. God is well pleased with the gesture and uses it to exercise his saving power. Moses’s uplifted arms assure victory. However, Moses’s resting arms seem to invite defeat. Immediately Moses and his attendants learn that God was making obedience to the gesture in faith the condition for his victory.  

Using the gesture of Moses, God teaches one of his most important lessons to the people of Israel, namely, that obedience to Moses, to his commandments, is what will allow them to survive throughout the centuries, even amid the persecution of the spiritual descendants of Amalek. In order to be successful as the people of God they needed to be faithful and obedient just as Moses was.

Moses standing above the battle with his arms uplifted is a prefiguration of our Lord. Moses is a symbol of the Lord and his grace present in the sacraments of the Church. As we can see it on our beautiful crucifix, the Lord crucified stands above the plain of the world, saving the people of God from the powers of death.

The Church as the new Israel correspondingly survives her many adversaries trusting not in her own powers but in the power of the Cross, the authentic staff of God, which is present in the seven sacraments.

The challenge that the Church has, and for that matter each one of us, her members, is to remain faithful to the mystery of the Church and her sacraments. By being faithful to the sacraments is how the Church will survive in every age and will eventually triumph in the age of the return of the Lord.

The Lord’s question at the end of today’s gospel will remain echoing throughout the centuries: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Let us humbly ask our Lord to give us his grace to always believe in the Church and in the power of the sacraments.