Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Habakkuk’s questions hundreds of decades ago are still being asked today: “How long, O LORD?…. 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” (Hab 1:2-3). In cities or in far-flung villages, much more in calamity hit or war damaged areas, we feel the hardships of life, economic, political, social, moral and spiritual. Sickness in the family bothers us so much, as it entails lots of time, energy and resources. Murder, robbery and abuse of women and children seem to be regular news daily. Hunger in the world has become a desensitized piece of news. Substance abuse has been a daily battle in life. Discrimination because of color, race, religion, educational attainment and others are still widespread.
These questions and conditions are stated in various ways. Among them are the following:
1. By complaining. A person does not want to be part of a situation that he abhors, because he thinks he is different or has the means to be elevated to a higher position or condition.
2. By disdainfully stating the situation of suffering without any intention of doing something about it, as long as he is not affected by it.
3. By being mindful that he is not alone, and his suffering is a way of purification and strengthening of his faith and hope in the God of mercy. He trusts that the Lord will make good use of his suffering for the good of all. This was the way Habakkuk approached the situation and did not judge the Lord, for the Lord is just and would come to his aid, as God said to him: “the vision still has its time…. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live” (Hab 2:3-4).
In his homily in Glasgow, Scotland, Pope Benedict XVI expressed concern regarding the hardships in life, and said: “I urge you to lead lives worthy of our Lord (cf. Eph 4:1) and of yourselves. There are many temptations placed before you every day — drugs, money, sex, pornography, alcohol — which the world tells you will bring you happiness, yet these things are destructive and divisive. There is only one thing which lasts: the love of Jesus Christ personally for each one of you. Search for him, know him and love him, and he will set you free from slavery to the glittering but superficial existence frequently proposed by today’s society. Put aside what is worthless and learn of your own dignity as children of God” (www.zenit.org, Sept. 16, 2010).
The faith that Habakkuk, Paul and the Apostles expressed was a simple demonstration of their trust that God would fulfill His promises. Habakkuk entrusted his life to God and believed that God would bring salvation in His time, not in man’s hasty design. St. Paul urged Timothy “to stir into flame the gift of God…. to bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God” and to “guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us” (cf 2 Tm 1:6-14). The Apostles, seeing how Jesus’ trust in the Father worked in the life of the people, asked: “increase our faith” (Lk 17:5).
Thus, we learn the following characteristics of real faith in the Lord:
1. Our faith, to be firm and authentic, should be based on humility. We cannot save ourselves from the selfishness of this world. Only the power of the Resurrection of Jesus can lead us back to the Father. Our faith is not an end in itself. It has to grow in the love of neighbor.
2. Our faith should give hope to our brothers and sisters and have fulfillment in works of charity. In his letter, St. James proclaims, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?…. For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (cf Ja 2:14-26).
3. Our faith to be concrete should witness love in gratitude. Thankfulness is proof of our understanding that faith is a gift from God, and everything that we are and have comes from Him. We also recognize that we receive and put faith into action not solely for ourselves, but for the good of our brothers and sisters and for the greater glory of God.
Hence, we can expect to achieve the many miracles Jesus promised those who would remain faithful in Him. With faith the size of a mustard seed we hope to experience the miracle of forgiveness among peoples, the miracle of fidelity and love of espouses to each other and within the family, the miracle of selfless service, the miracle of life and of healing, and the miracle of peace that only Christ can give.
With real faith, we celebrate the Eucharist as the greatest miracle of life, where Jesus gives Himself to His faithful, to strengthen us at all times, and keep us holy till the end. Let us strengthen one another, as we hear St. Paul proclaim: Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering and persevere in prayer (Rom 12:11-12).