Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Little is known about the history of Habakkuk the Prophet, a man who lived in Israel and is credited with writing the book that bears the same name. This book is recognized as divinely inspired and is within the biblical canon was written experts close to 612.
Reading 1 HAB 1:2-3; 2:2-4
but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord.
Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
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.
The rash one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.
Responsorial Psalm PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Reading 2 2 TM 1:6-8, 13-14
I remind you, to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.
Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me,
in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit
that dwells within us.
Alleluia 1 PT 1:25
The word of the Lord remains forever.
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 17:5-10
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied,
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.’”
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
Habakkuk the Prophet tells us today: “the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” You and I are called be “the just one” in our daily lives, but that will cost us our lives because it means giving up everything for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
This first reading today, from the Prophet Habakkuk, is a stern warning to the people and the leaders: turn away from all that is not of God and seek only God and God’s will. That same warning can be given in every day and age. Human history does not change very much. We humans seem always to go off course and then we begin to seek not the Lord but the things that give us please in this life. We really don’t want to believe that there is another life that might put some kind of requirements in this life. We prefer to think that if there is a God, that God will always accept us just as we are. This kind of thinking soon leads to a sense of no God at all and that this life is just about us getting what we can.
The second reading comes from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy. This letter gives advice to Timothy about how to live a life of faith. We need such advice, every day. The core teaching of this small part of the letter that we have heard today is this: “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” This relates to clear to both the first reading and the Gospel today!
In the thinking of the world, power is about control of others. In the thinking of the Gospel power is about love and self-control. We can think today about our own way of dealing with power. All of us have power over others in varying ways. How do we live out that mystery of power?
The Gospel from Saint Luke today brings us a teaching on faith: how to live our faith in daily life. Clearly we all have faith in varying degrees. We cannot judge the degree of faith in another person. We are called simply to keep our eyes on the Lord and be aware that He is with us and asks us to follow Him. We get uneasy about our faith, just as Saint Peter did when he began to walk on the water, which is not the normal happening of life. When our faith asks of us something that is out of the normal, then we often doubt our own faith. Rarely, we are able to respond with a completely giving of self—but that would be such a wonderful response if we could do it.
Today the readings call us to conversion and to seek to live in such a way that we can give ourselves completely to the following of the Lord Jesus.
Your brother in the Lord,
Monastery of Christ in the Desert https://christdesert.org/about/
Habakkuk the Prophet
As one of the most renowned works in sculpture of the Renaissance, Donatello’s prophet Habakkuk ushered in a strain of psychological and physical realism. The modeling of the bald, strained, head of the prophet creates a sense of powerful forewarning, appropriate to the scriptural texts. This statue originally stood outside, and Florentines gave it the name, “Il Zuccone,” or Pumpkinhead.
Donatello’s prophet Habakkuk
The Habakkuk sculpture is an example of Donatello’s attempt at “ekphrasis” — “Ekphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form, and in doing so, relate more directly to the audience, through its illuminative liveliness. A descriptive work of prose or poetry, a film, or even a photograph may thus highlight through its rhetorical vividness what is happening, or what is shown in, say, any of the visual arts, and in doing so, may enhance the original art and so take on a life of its own through its brilliant description. ” [from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekphrasis%5D
Kenneth Gross, a scholar whose work, The Dream of the Moving Statue, tackles examples of ekphrasis in the dialogue between literature and fine art. He writes about Donatello’s Habakkuk and the artist’s attempt to represent the prophet’s Biblicalm iconoclastic rhetoric. “Let us first imagine Donatello trying to answer the question, How does one make a statue of an iconoclast? … How could the statue of an iconoclast face down the fact of being one of those things that “have mouths, but do not speak; / eyes, but do not see / …ears, but do not hear; / noses, but do not smell” (Ps 115:5-8)? Donatello’s solution…is to construct a figure whose aspect entails a radical retroping of the merely given wordlessness, blindess, and senselessness of sculpture, a refiguring of the opacity that makes the idol a spiritual threat. It entails a choice of form and feature that radically readjusts our angle of vision on the statue’s way of representing life, as well as on its inherent deathliness.”
Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, October 6, 2013 — God Shouts to Us in Our Pain and Suffering — Jesus teaches the apostles to look out for the little ones and those excluded or marginalized in society
Every Christian who is baptized is called to be a servant of the gospel. This is what St Paul wrote, “You have been trusted to look after something precious; guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” To enable the baptized to be an effective servant, the Church bestows upon the Christian, the Sacrament of confirmation. This is further reinforced when he or she takes up a specific vocation in the Church and for the Church in the sacrament of matrimony or that of ordination. It is important to bear in mind that these sacraments are all associated and for the purpose of the proclamation of the gospel through the witnessing of the gospel.
Yet, the truth is that many of us have lost the zeal to spread the gospel we have received and to share the gift we have been given. This is true for all of us. What could be the reason? Even the young Bishop, St Timothy, was losing zeal in his ministry; and hence the letter of St Paul was written to offer him some encouragement. There are many reasons.
It could be due to persecution and opposition. Reading between the lines, we know that Timothy was perhaps not respected by his flock because of his youth. We can be sure that there was competition, jealousy, backbiting, rumor mongering, politicking, etc, like in any community. It must have been tiring for him. Thus, St Paul wrote, “So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News.” Serving the Lord, whether as volunteers or as full time workers, we surely will face suffering.
Secondly, this could lead to discouragement. This is one of the principal weapons of the Devil, which is to send his angels to discourage us from doing good, especially in the face of opposition and failure. When we have some beautiful plans or vision for our organization and the Church, we can be sure that there will people who oppose us simply because these are not their ideas and they did not propose them. They will seek to put us down, discourage us and influence others to go against us. At the same time, they have no better ideas to improve the situation. Indeed, many good-will people with great ideas for the Church and for the work of evangelization feel disappointed and rejected because even before they are heard, they are put down. This is one of the reasons many professionals have given up offering their services to the Church because their expertise are not only not valued but are put in question.
The third common reason why many give up serving in the ministry is because of the lack of appreciation and recognition. The truth is that even when serving in the Church, we are still imperfect human beings. We are insecure in many ways. We look for affirmation, encouragement and appreciation. This is quite natural. When that is not forthcoming, we begin to wonder whether it is worth our efforts and whether we should be doing what we are doing. Of course, there are some who are so insecure that they want to be honoured even, and given positions of power and influence. They like to be seen and praised all the time. Such exaggerated needs for recognition and honour have gone beyond the confines of the human need and entered into the sin of pride and envy. Indeed, for such people, when they are not given power and honour, they give up the ministry.
There is still the fourth reason why people get discouraged in ministry when they fail to see results. This group of people brings with them the corporate mindset. They depend on numbers and productivity. They measure everything in terms of KPIs. Of course, there must be accountability and good results for what we do so that we can ascertain and appraise the effectiveness of our works. This was what happened to the prophet in the first reading. He was getting impatient with the Lord for not acting for the people of Israel in exile. He cried to the Lord, “How long, Lord, am I to cry for help while you will not listen; to cry Oppression! in your ear and you will not save?” This, too, is the prayer that we pray when the efforts and sacrifices we put in do not seem to bring any positive benefits to all.
Thus, many give up because they do not have the patience to wait for the Lord to act. This is what God told the prophet, “Write the vision down, inscribe it on tablets to be easily read, since this vision is for its own time only: eager for its own fulfilment, it does not deceive; if it comes slowly, wait, for come it will, without fail.” But many of us want things our way and in our own time. It is not so much the Lord working in them, or rather, the Lord working through them. They want to be in control of the situation. In truth, they think that success is due to the work of their hands. They trust more in their hard work, ingenuity, planning, strategizing rather than the power of God to work in ways beyond their imagination. This is not to say that we need not do anything but we must trust in the ways of the Lord and His grace rather than ourselves. Otherwise, when things are successful, we cannot claim credit for the Lord but for ourselves.
So what must we do to regain the zeal for the spreading of the gospel? St Paul instructs Timothy to “fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” We are called to renew our zeal and love for the Lord which has been given to us at our baptism, marriage and ordination. Together with His love, He has also given us His Spirit with the accompanying gifts to do His work. We are never asked to do His work without Him first qualifying us and giving us the gifts for our vocation. Whenever the Lord calls, He qualifies us and empowers us with His grace and gifts. So all we need to do is to go back to the source and the promise of God’s grace for us. We need to make use of the gifts we have received for our work. St Paul urges us that “God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control.” This requires that we exercise the gifts given to us and not to keep them for ourselves. What is not used will be taken away. The best way to develop our gifts is to use them for the service of all.
What does this entail? Firstly, it means falling in love with Jesus over and over again. There can be no ministry if we have lost our love for the Lord and His love for us. Jesus in the gospel warns us, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Mt 5:13) We must return to the master to seek His love and His strength. In our weakness, we need to remember how much our Lord has suffered for us. Renewal of our love for the Lord is the beginning and the foundation of any form of ministry. When our hearts have grown cold, we cannot do much. The Lord would have this to say to us, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Rev 2:4)
Secondly, we need to build ourselves up in the Word of the Lord. This calls for ongoing formation and discipleship. This was what St Paul told Timothy when he said, “Keep as your pattern the sound teaching you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” So as ministry members, we need to be formed in faith and love for Christ through the reading of the Word of God, through the teachings of our authoritative leaders, through the doctrines of the Church.
Thirdly, we need to keep ourselves humble before the Lord and His appointed leaders. Frustration in the ministry comes about because of pride and wanting things our way. Pride is the downfall of every human person and the cause of all division. This explains why the Church always requires her clergy and religious to observe the promise or vow of obedience. Without this pledge of obedience, the Catholic Church would have been divided long ago and could not have withstood for 2000 years. Obedience is the tool to prevent the devil from allowing our pride to destroy us. Thus in the responsorial psalm, the psalmist urges us to listen to the voice of the Lord. “O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts’” Listening to His voice is not to be understood in an individualistic way or a subjective manner. Most of the time, the external voice of God comes through the established and legitimate authorities appointed by Him.
Above all, we must have faith in the Lord, not on ourselves. This is the fundamental attitude we should have. “Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey you.’” Faith in the power of the Lord, reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit presupposes humility and trust in Him. Twice St Paul told Timothy that faith entails “relying on the power of God” and “the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” This was also what God told the prophet, “See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.” So with faith, we surrender all our projects and undertakings to the Lord.
In the final analysis, we must remember that we are only servants of God. He is our master. We should not expect reward and gratitude. As servants and slaves of God, our task is to give glory to God and not be self-reverential in what we do. We want God to be glorified and His kingdom established. As servants, we should be grateful that He counts us worthy to serve Him. This is our greatest reward, to be counted worthy to be at His service and to be blessed with good health, gifts and resources. What other rewards do we need? For by serving the Lord with total dedication, faith and love and humility, we come to realize ourselves. We find fulfillment, meaning, joy and love.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
All three readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time speak a lot about “Faith” and how it works in our lives. They give us three dimensions of Faith. The theological virtue of Faith enables us to believe something to be true and therefore worthy of trust because it has been revealed to us by God. Paul, who elsewhere defined Faith as “the assurance of the things hoped for,” shows it as a believing, trusting, loving relationship with Christ in his instructions to Timothy. Finally, Christian Faith is that trusting Faith in God in action, expressed by steadfast loyalty, fidelity and total commitment to Him, resulting in our offering to Him in those we encounter our humble and loving service.
The first reading defines Faith as trusting in God and living with fidelity to the Covenant. Here Faith is presented as trust and steadfast expectation in the face of suffering and delay. God assures the prophet that although “the rash one” that is one who does not believe, “has no integrity, “the just one, because of his Faith, will live” because he will lead a righteous life in the midst of encircling evil. Faith, then, is the foundation of faithfulness; and faithfulness strengthens Faith. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 95), God is characterized as a sturdy rock and a caring shepherd, surely worthy of our trusting Faith. This reminds us of St. Augustine’s advice to “pray as though everything depended on God, and work as though everything depended on you.” The second reading explains why Faith gives us a new way of looking at things and a new way of living. Paul presents Faith as our acceptance of Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of God. Paul stresses the need for a living Faith in, and loyalty to, Christ’s teachings, which have been handed down to us by the Church. Hence, Faith is belief in, and acceptance of, revealed truths, based on the authority and veracity of God, and Hope is trust in God. Faith not only enables us to be faithful; it also strengthens us to be courageous. Faith grows as we put it to use by obediently rendering humble service to God in others. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his Apostles that Faith allows us to share in God’s power, and, hence, even in small quantities, it enables Him to work miracles in our lives and in the lives of others. It is Faith which makes one just, putting him into right relation with God and neighbor. In the Bible, Faith means reliance on, or confidence in, God, and Hope is the expectation of a better future. While the Apostles ask for an increase in the quantity of their Faith, Jesus reminds them that the quality of their faith is more important. Using a master-servant parable, Jesus also teaches them that, for Faith to be effective, it must be linked with trust, loving obedience and total commitment — an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever He commands, even in tough times.
First reading: Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4: Habakkuk was a minor prophet who lived during the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and encouraged his fellow Jews to retain their Faith during this disaster. He interprets Faith as a persistent confidence in God’s saving power. The first two chapters of the book of Habakkuk are in the form of a dialogue between the prophet and God. The prophet repeatedly complains and the Lord answers each time. Around 600 BC, God’s people had been unfaithful, and, as a deserved punishment for their sins, a pagan nation, Babylon, was preparing to invade Jerusalem. What distressed the prophet was that Judah’s punishment came at the hands of brutal pagans who were overly aggressive. It looked as if bad were being punished by worse. To Habakkuk, it seemed that the Lord God was strengthening the arm of injustice in not punishing the excesses of His people’s enemy. He saw this as unworthy of God’s holiness and justice. Hence, the prophet cried out to God, “How long, Lord, am I to cry for help while you will not listen? I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’–Yet you do not save.” But God told His prophet to trust in Him, to persevere and to be patient, because He was aware of both the goodness of the good people and the evil they fought against. The reading concludes with the positive answer from God: “The just man, because of faith, shall live” [Hb 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38]. This means that that the righteous, or just, one is steadfast in faithfulness, even in the midst of violence and destruction, and this faithfulness assures life. Faith here is not simply assent to a series of doctrines, but includes trust, with a steadfast expectation of release in the face of suffering and delay. The just man lives because he keeps his relationship with God. The word “Faith” (emunah) used here refers to a living Faith, a Faith expressed in actions, a Faith with works (James. 2:17, 26). Therefore, it can only be concluded that faith without works is indeed dead. “Faith is compounded of belief and love as well as of trust and confidence amid trials and tribulations” (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, page 297, # 39, 4b).
Second reading: II Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14: Raymond E. Brown (An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, New York: 1997) suggests that 2 Timothy was written not long after Paul’s death as a farewell testament by someone very close to him during his last days. Therefore, these words of encouragement should be understood as part of an eloquent and passionate appeal by the greatest Christian apostle that his work should continue beyond his death through generations of disciples. Although Timothy had been groomed as Paul’s successor in the ministry, he had grown disillusioned at the Christian community’s lukewarmness and was somewhat embarrassed by Paul’s current status as prisoner. Hence, Paul encouraged Timothy to persevere, stressing the need for a living Faith: “Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the Faith and Love that are in Christ Jesus.” The graces of ordination (which Timothy had received), include “power” to master every situation, self-sacrificing “love” expressed in affectionate service to the community, and the “self-control” essential for Christian leadership. The Deposit of Faith entrusted to him had to be handed on to the next generation, with Hope in, and Love for, Jesus Christ. Faith and love cannot be separated, and “Faith, Hope and Charity are the foundation of Christian moral activity. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being” (CCC #1813). In saying to Timothy, “I am reminding you to fan into flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you,” Paul was saying to his people in effect, “Don’t look at yourselves; look at what God has given you. Get up and do something!” Our Christian Faith is our bond with God and our communion with one another in the Holy Spirit. We need to “fan it into a flame.” That takes vigilance and effort. If we are really serious about our Faith, we will spend time with God in prayer, in reflection, in adoration.
Exegesis: The context: When Jesus demanded of his disciples that they respond with unconditional and unlimited forgiveness to their repentant offenders (vv 3-4), the disciples asked Jesus for more Faith so that they could meet this demand. In addition, the Apostles were asking for greater confidence and trust in God, so that they might work the miracles which they had seen Jesus perform, like the withering of a fig-tree by a simple command. Jesus responded by telling them of the power of Faith — even a very little Faith (vv 5-6). He used the parables of the mustard seed and the good servant to help them understand the need for strong Faith.
a) The parable of the mustard seed: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed.” Faith is used here in three senses. 1) First, Faith means “trust.” People “have faith in their banks” because their accounts are insured. Similarly, we must put our trust in the authority of God and in the truth of His doctrines. St. Paul defines Faith as confidence and certainty (Hebrews 11:1). 2) Second, Faith refers to assent to doctrines about God taught by Jesus and the Church (e.g., our belief in the truths listed in the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed). 3) Third, Faith refers to a “bond” or “relationship,” with God. Jesus tells us that if we have even a small relationship with our Heavenly Father, we can do anything. No matter how weak it seems, Faith is an overwhelming power. Even a little Faith can direct our lives, comfort us when we are discouraged and challenge us when we are complacent. Jesus did not ask the Apostles to move trees or mountains, but rather to forgive their repentant brothers and sisters. Such a requirement demands Faith, and the Apostles (representing all Church leaders), responded by asking that their faith be increased to meet such a demanding challenge. Jesus reminds them that it is not the greatness of their Faith, but rather the greatness of God’s power working through them that will move mountains (Mt 17:20; Mk 11:23). Forgiveness is a gift of God’s grace, activated through Faith. When a person of Faith is trustingly receptive to God’s power, all things become possible — even moving mountains or forgiving bitter enemies.
Faith strong enough to plant a tree in the sea: Planting a tree in the sea using words alone sounds impossible and ridiculous to us. But, using this cartoon metaphor, Jesus challenges us to attempt the difficult things of life. The tree Jesus mentions is a variety of large, deeply rooted mulberry tree that grows in the Middle East. By this strange example, Jesus shows us that we, too, can perform miracles. We must be ready to attempt things that the worldly, the wise and the sophisticated laugh at. Here are two examples. 1) A middle-aged mother went back to complete her teacher training. She specialized in helping children with learning difficulties. In a large school she worked with a class of what others called “the retarded.” Because she had actually asked for this difficult class, some teachers treated her as though she were insane. Wasn’t this truly “planting trees in the sea?” 2) A priest in Africa deliberately committed a small crime in order to get himself put in a prison where he could minister to those who needed him most. He was “planting a tree in the sea!” He had true Faith!
b) The parable of the Under-Appreciated Servant: This parable teaches that Faith requires action. It also gives us a lesson in theological Humility, reminding us that, as followers of Jesus, we are God’s servants. This becomes evident in the parable about the master who expects his servant to carry out his orders. When the servant returns from working in the fields, he also has housework to do. His master does not feel indebted to his servant for his fidelity in doing what is all part of his duty. In the same manner, the Apostles, and we, are expected to carry out the orders Jesus gives us. They, and we, are the servants of the Gospel. So we can never feel that we have worked “enough.” We must regard ourselves as God’s servants, as did Jesus who came “not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Service to God and neighbor is a voluntary or free act which springs from a generous and merciful heart. It is a sacred duty which we owe to God. When we serve the poor, we are simply serving at the Lord’s Table and waiting on Him while He eats and drinks. As we work for the Lord in Faith, He works in us.
Jesus instructs his disciples to say, “We are unprofitable servants.” The New English Bible gives the correct translation: “We are servants and deserve no credit.” The Greek original suggests simply that these servants should not expect anything further, i.e., that they should not be looking for special attention or approval. We also must realize that our ability to lead a good life, to love other people, and to serve God is not our own doing. These things come from our relationship with God. Even when we forgive others, it is by the grace of God through Faith. He is our Source of power, and without His help we are useless servants. We acknowledge our bond with God as the source of our virtue. The stronger our relationship with God, the more will we be empowered to forgive others and do good to them.
Life messages: 1) We need to thank God, giving Him the credit for our well-being. Following the example of the Apostles, we must pray for greater Faith and trust in God. Most of us are inclined to forget God’s providence when our earthly affairs are going well. How often do we thank Him when we enjoy good health, or when our home-life and business are going smoothly? How many of us thank God for all the gifts we have received? We often attribute our good health to correct use of food and exercise. Often we attribute our success to our hard work and intelligence. It is only when a storm arises in our life that we think of God. We pray to Him only when trouble strikes. In His Infinite Goodness, God often answers such prayers. If, however, we had thought of Him every day and realized His place in our lives, with how much more confidence would we approach Him in our hour of need? If our own personal lives were stronger in Faith, how much more readily would we accept the adversities and the trials that God sends us? This is why we must ask God today to “increase our Faith” at all times.
2) We need to increase our Faith by becoming dutiful servants of God. A zealous Christian can speak more convincingly to his or her neighbor about the need for God and an upright life through his or her own daily actions than through explaining religious doctrines. A sincere Christian can find many ways to help to make Christ known to his neighbor. A quiet word, a charitable gesture, an unselfish interest in a neighbor’s troubles can do more good than a series of sermons given by some renowned theologian. There are always people around us who need help. We can help them — God expects it of us. Faith is increased by serving others, not by being served. Faith is increased when we manifest our love towards others, our family, friends and strangers. When we isolate ourselves from the world, we lose our Faith.
3) We need to grow in Faith by using the means Christ has given us in His Church. We must cultivate our Faith through prayer, Bible study, and leading a well-disciplined spiritual life. Faith is the gift of God—so we must pray that God will increase our Faith. Time spent with God in prayer is fundamental to the development of Faith. We must pray for a Faith that is strong enough to overcome the difficulties and crises we face daily. In addition, association with people of Faith builds Faith. Hence, our participation in the Holy Mass (“the mystery of Faith”), and the life of the Church is important. Because of the Eucharistic Meal on the altar and the Sacramental graces at our disposal, we find that we are not unprofitable servants, but instruments and agents of Jesus, Who, through the power of Divine Love, helps us to reap a harvest worthy of Him. Sacred Scriptures inform and correct our Faith. Without the guidance of the Scriptures, our Faith tends to be weak. We grow in Faith as we act in Faith. Every gift of God is strengthened by the exercise of it.
Many years ago a famous shoe company sent one of its salespeople to a faraway country to start a business. After a few months he sent back the message: “I am coming home. Nobody wears shoes here.” The same company sent another sales person to the same backward area. After a few months she sent this message to the home office: “Send more order forms! Nobody wears shoes here! Hence, I can sell more shoes.” The second salesperson saw the opportunity in her situation – not the difficulty. She succeeded because she had faith in her product, faith in the people and faith in her ability to canvass customers. Today’s readings tell us that if we have a little Faith – even the smallest amount – in God’s power, which He is glad to share with us, then we’re on the right track.
Source: Homilies of Fr. Anthony Kadavil
Tags: 2 TM 1:6-8 13-14, Conscious contact with God, For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control, gratitude, HAB 1:2-3 2:2-4, Habakkuk, Habakkuk the Prophet, Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts, Karelia, Kizhi monastery, Lk 17:5-10, October 2 2016, Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, Prayer and Meditation, Psalm 95, Russia, seek God, seek God's will, turn away from all that is not of God and seek only God and God’s will