Readings: Hb 1:2-3,2:2-4; 2 Tim 1:6-8,13-14; Lk 17:5-10
Comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable and proclaiming the sanctity of human life are some the phrases that capture best the theme of this Sunday. Habakkuk’s society in the first reading was not all that much different from ours, where violence and power are glorified and the vulnerable are destroyed or kept in their place. Since 1972, the first Sunday of October has been designated by the Church as Respect Life Sunday, also known as Sanctity of Life Sunday. We are all challenged by the very context that denies the sanctity of human life while promoting a culture of death. Violence is all around us and played daily on our TV screens. Today we join the prophet 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. Do not despair. God will ultimately 'transform evil into good. "The vision has its time; it will happen."
In the second reading, Paul reminds Timothy of “the gift of God” that he received, and exhorts him 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 you 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 the culture of death into a culture of life. As faithful disciples, we are challenged to make our choice: to serve Jesus Christ or to remain indifferent. The message may be summed up in a few points. 1) The readings underline the transforming power of faith when put into action; 2) We must not despair. God will ultimately '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 death and destruction of human life by promoting a culture of life; by being lovers of life ourselves. This may mean marching together to the State Capital to express our conviction against legalization of abortion; it may mean sticking out our heads on the firing line for our faith or risking the possibility of persecution and even death. 4) We can choose to remain indifferent or choose 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. Think about it.
©2019 John S. Mbinda