We’re making a little progress, my brothers and I, in the effort to help our Mom downsize from the home of our youth. Yesterday, our clean-out day unearthed a front-page treasure that had been squirreled away in a steamer trunk for the past 47 years or so.
Moon landings are (literally) old news these days of course.
Still, I was struck by the impact of the yellowed newsprint on my spirit. The headline whooshed me back in time to that summer day in 1969…when it happened. When “we” accomplished what JFK had said in 1961 we ought to do: “…by the end of this decade, send an American safely to the moon…”
Intriguingly, the headline stirred a similar reaction in my next-youngest brother. He asked, “Do you remember where you were…?” And of course I did, because it had been a family affair. No, an extended family event – all the aunts and uncles and cousins gathered in Grandma and Grandpa’s living room, to watch the momentous accomplishment on their (color!) television.
The memory of that communal experience still lingered this morning, as I encountered the words of the second reading – from the letter to the Hebrews – at Mass.
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.
What is it that we hope for, all of us?
In the 1960s, we had experienced just such a possibility. The moon landing struck a collective consciousness. It captured almost everyone’s attention – not just in the United States but around the world.
The author of Hebrews alludes to something similar – pointing out that there’s something missing in everyone’s heart. Noting that we revere Abraham, in part, because he acted on that gap.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God.
… So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.
In a sense, Abraham is a little like Neil Armstrong, I guess.
Both help us look to the stars, in order to see what is Beyond.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.