October 3: 27th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C
Readings: Hb 1:2-3,2:2-4; 2 Tim 1:6-8,13-14; Lk 17:5-10
The readings this Sunday make us deeply aware of the transforming power of faith when put into action. Listening to the first reading, we realize that Habakkuk’s society was not all that much different from ours, where violence and power are glorified and the weak are kept in their place. Since 1972, the first Sunday of October has been designated by the Church as Respect Life Sunday, also called Sanctity of Life Sunday. We are all challenged by the very context that denies the sanctity of human life. Violence is all around us and played daily on our TV screens. Add to this the latest horrors that movie theatres portray before us. It is argued that people really want to hear about and see the naked details. Today we join Habakkuk in asking God, “How Long, O Lord, I cry out to you, ‘Violence,’ but you do not intervene.” Habakkuk’s prayer is answered by the Lord indirectly. He is told to write the vision down, it is certainly going to happen, you can record it even before it takes place: “The rash one has no integrity, but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” In other words, integrity is the strength of personality that allows someone to be wholesome, sincere, with oneself, with others, and with God.
In the second reading, Paul reminding Timothy of “the gift of God” that he received, exhorts him and us to bear witness with courage and present the faith with clarity. That implies that we first of all need strong faith and trust in God. “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power, love and self-control (discipline). So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with strength that comes from God.” The Gospel reading starts as a genuine prayer of the apostles - Lord "increase our faith". The apostles realized that faith was a gift from God, for no one can earn or buy it. Without directly responding to the request of the apostles, Jesus used the image of uprooting a tree through the incredible power of faith. The tree is an image of the status quo of violence and destruction of human life. With the smallest amount of faith – the size of a mustard seed - one can uproot a large tree like the mulberry tree (with long roots). Jesus exaggerates to make the point that genuine faith has a transforming power for us and for the world. If we are faithfully united to Christ, we can be transformed into more effective instruments of the Lord in transforming our culture's ways. As faithful disciples, we are challenged to make our choice: to serve Jesus Christ or to remain indifferent. The devil knows what indifference and complacency mean when we knowingly omit to speak the truth or when we are timid; when we will not stand and be counted for being on the side of Christ and His Church. That is why we need an increase of faith, so that we may stand for Christ in what He teaches through the Church. Let me sum up in a few points: 1) The readings underline the transforming power of faith when put into action; 2) God will ultimately respond and 'transform evil into good. "The vision has its time; it will happen". 3) The readings challenge us to give witness in a secular culture of violence and destruction of human life by promoting a culture of life. In the extreme case, this may mean sticking out our heads on the firing line for our faith, risking the possibility of persecution and even death. 4) We can choose to remain indifferent or to testify to a culture of life that respects the sanctity of all human life from its very beginning to its end by natural death.
©2010 John S. Mbinda
Fr. John's Homily and Music: Be Not Afraid; Holy is His Name