Sunday, October 6, 2019

Homily for Today

From A Catholic Moment;

We recall that in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI wrote his first Encyclical letter on “Love” which he titled, “Deus Caritas Est” (God is Love…1 John 4:16). And in 2007, he wrote his second Encyclical letter on “Hope” which he titled, “Spe Salvi” ( Saved in Hope). So having written on Love and Hope, it is logical to expect another Encyclical letter on Faith. Certainly he began his third Encyclical letter on Faith before his sudden resignation in 2013. However, it was not for nothing that the first Encyclical letter of Pope Francis in 2013 was on Faith, “Lumen Fidei” (The Light of Faith). And in this Encyclical he said, “Benedict had almost completed a first draft of an Encyclical on Faith. For this I am deeply grateful to him, and as his brother in Christ I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own.” This shows the progressive attention the Church gives to these three theological virtues (Faith, Hope and Love).
Thus, the liturgy of the word on this 27th Sunday calls us to reflect on Faith. The first reading shows that Faith must be patient and persevering even in the midst of troubles. The second reading is an invitation to set the Faith we have received on fire; the life of testimony by sharing in the passion of our Lord made possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the question of the disciples, the Gospel makes us to understand that Jesus is the only source of our Faith. Thus, we must be bold enough to ask the Lord to increase our Faith like the disciples did.

FIRST READING: Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4
The prophet Habakkuk lived at a time of considerable turmoil for his people. He witnessed threats coming from other nations – specifically from the rise of the Babylonians, who were in fact going to capture Israel into exile in the early 6th century BCE – and he saw a breakdown of honest administration and social justice within his own society. The prophet made a prayer intervention on behalf of the people over the impending doom, but God did not respond immediately. In fact his relationship with God at this point serves as a basis of the theological question as to why God seems to be silent sometimes to the plight of his people.
This experience of the prophet is a copy of the experience that we have sometimes: praying to God for a particular favor and nothing happens! Waiting upon the Lord, and he seems to be far away! And this could be quite discouraging. But this long complaint and worry of the prophet would immediately receive a life changing message that should touch the core of our faith. The word of God says: “For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.”
Yes the God of communication finally spoke to Habakkuk to wait patiently. He made him to understand that He (God is not an automated machine that should respond “robbotically” whenever he is clicked on. Thus the message is to wait on God’s own time with Faith.
We must wait on God. The prophet Isaiah captures this message otherwise as: “Those who hope in Yahweh will regain their strength, they will sprout wings like eagles, though they run they will not grow weary, though they walk they will never tire” (40:31). Thus the operational work of Faith is the call for us to believe that there is a personal God who really cares about us and in whose hands the whole world is resting. It calls us to believe that God is not a dead deity but alive and active in our world. It equally calls us to believe that God loves each one of us personally and that he is involved in our lives in a personal way. This is not easy to believe especially when all we see around us is darkness, pains, sufferings, challenges, setbacks, disappointments, sickness, death especially of people so dear to us. And what more? Job faced these challenges and did not give up. Even when it was obvious that it is foolish to still believe in God, he broke the silence by affirming the certainty that his Redeemer lives (19:25).
The prophet Habbakuk saw doom coming and his faith quaked. But he did not wish to be silent. He disturbed God in prayers, until God responded in a way that shows that when we are troubled and complain in prayers, he takes note. So his silence does not imply indifference, but to see if we have the faithful trust in him. That is why he concludes in today’s message that what is required of every ‘righteous’ person (one who is faithful to the covenant) is faith: a persevering trust that He (God) will eventually intervene at last.

SECOND READING: II Tm 1:6-8,13-14
This is another pastoral letter of St. Paul written within the four walls of the prison. The tone of this letter is a one of encouragement. Many scholars were of the view that this letter was written shortly before the death of Paul. During his active pastoral ministry, Paul made sure that he groomed Timothy to succeed him in the ministry, not just as a bishop of Ephesus, but an excellent witness to the Gospel. But in this letter, Timothy seemed to be disillusioned by two things: (a) The lukewarmness of the Christian community and (b) The present status of Paul as a prisoner. Aware of his worries, Paul as his spiritual father did not hesitate encourage him to persevere, stressing the need for a living Faith. Thus, the Faith cannot be lived in silence. It must be lived in total witnessing to Christ. And it can never be complete until it passes through passion. Hence, Paul draws the attention of Timothy that his imprisonment (Paul) is for the sake of his active Faith…
However, Paul calls us on need to “fan (that small fire we have received on the day of our baptism) into a flame” and keep it blazing. This takes grace, vigilance and effort. There is no place in the life of Christ and his Church for “lukewarmness”. Our world today needs radicality of Faith. As the world is going crazy with its lifestyle, we must go “crazy with love for Christ.” That is how to give a counter witness. The Church does not need “A sit down and look” members. We must be on our feet…

GOSPEL: Lk 17:5-10
The Gospel summarizes the readings of today. Luke demonstrated through the question of the disciples of Jesus, “Lord increase our Faith” that Jesus is the source and end of our Faith.
Jesus had barely finished teaching his disciples in the previous verses (Lk 17:1-4), about the sin of scandal and the virtue of forgiveness when his disciples asked for the increase of their faith (v.5). This request could be understood in two ways: (1) The disciples needed Faith in order to live out the demands of Jesus (v.1-4). (2)Secondly, we must understand that this question was asked while they were with him during his final journey to Jerusalem for his imminent passion. Therefore, they needed Faith strong enough to live the passion experience.
The response of Jesus came in two ways: (1) Faith as a mustard seed: This implies that Faith is not measured by quantity but by quality. The mustard seed is too small to be compared with other seeds, yet it grows into a shrub when it is planted (Mat. 13: 32; Lk 13:19). It is only a “quality Faith” that can still act in an impossible situation. To command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted into a sea seems to be an exaggerated teaching of Jesus on Faith. But such is Faith. An active Faith is one that believes that nothing is impossible for God (Gen 18:14; Jer. 32: 17; Zec. 8:6; Mat. 19:26; Mk 14:36; Lk 1:37). Can he who made heaven and earth not manage what is in them?
(2). The second aspect of Jesus’ response is the teaching on Faith as service. A disciple is one who must wait upon the Lord in a devoted service. His service to God is not an extraordinary thing such as to expect gratitude. It is a duty due to his state as servant. This second response of Jesus touches the core of our Faith in God. What can we give in exchange for what God has given to us? What level of service can we render to God (also in the sense of serving our brothers and sisters especially the poor) that is too much? God is never indebted to us for our fidelity in doing what is all part of our duty. Sometimes, many of us go into prayer maybe in attempt to request some favours from God, we tend to remind him how we have served him; how we have never missed mass, our daily prayers, our tithes, etc as if God must grant us what we ask for as a reward of our faithfulness. Jesus calls us “useless servants”. This implies that: (1) No amount of our service to God can be enough, (2) Our life has no meaning if it is not dedicated wholly to the service of God.
What a beautiful catechesis in this last journey towards Jerusalem. Jesus will soon leave them, thus their Faith must grow and be active in total service to God.

1. We will surely look and see problems streaming down our ways (Habbakuk). Let us therefore hold firm and do not allow ourselves be defeated by them. Rather let our actice Faith defeat them.

2. God is never asleep. Our patient and persevering Faith will win us God’s answer (Habbakuk).

3. We’ve got unique gifts from a unique God. Let us therefore allow the Holy Spirit to inflame this gift by exposing ourselves to him.

4. Like Paul, we must be aware that we cannot be true followers of Christ if our Faith does not lead us into prison for his sake. We must be ready for troubles from the world. Unfortunately, our “Yes” to God does not diminish problems but rather increases them. But a faithful trust in him is the tool to conquer.

5. What type of Faith do we have? Maybe we have tried severally to get connected to God. We’ve prayed and we seem not to be growing in spirituality. Sometimes it appears as if we are totally disconnected from God. Listen, the disciples acknowledged that they were not sufficient enough and out of humility sought for increase in their Faith. Let tell Jesus as he walks towards the “Jerusalem” of our life today to increase our Faith.

6. Finally, let us be sure that our lives have no meaning if they are not consecrated to the service of God and our neighbours. And to serve God is not an option, it is a necessity.

Draw us nearer and closer to the living waters of Your Spirit oh Lord. For You alone and nothing else can satisfy our heart that cries out, ‘I thirst.’

An elderly lady was well-known for her faith and for her boldness in talking about it. She would stand on her front porch and shout “PRAISE THE LORD!” Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, “There ain’t no Lord!!”
Hard times set in on the elderly lady, and she prayed for GOD to send her some assistance. She stood on her porch and shouted “PRAISE THE LORD. GOD I NEED FOOD!! I AM HAVING A HARD TIME. PLEASE LORD, SEND ME SOME GROCERIES!!” The next morning the lady went out on her porch and noted a large bag of groceries and shouted, “PRAISE THE LORD.”
The neighbor jumped from behind a bush and said, “Aha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn’t.”
The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and said, “PRAISE THE LORD. He not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them. Praise the Lord!”

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