27th Sunday in Ordinay Time
Today’s readings deal with faith. The rather obscure prophet Habakkuk lets God know just how he feels about the world in which he is living, a world of desolation, destruction, and ruin. The prophet roars his anger, demanding that the faithful God do something. He represents all of us during those moments when everything seems to be going wrong, when perhaps we feel that God seems to let the evil prosper and the decent people languish. Serious questions and doubts are raised when God seems too slow to do something. Habakkuk’s complaint could be signed by any of us today. We hear about the increasingly secular nature of our society and about violence and crime statistics, and we wonder: Where is God in all of this?
The Lord seems to be so distant, uncaring and uninvolved with his people! He can’t possibly be unaware of what is going on. How can God allow all of this to happen? We are fortunate that the prophet spoke to God as he did, reflecting a concern that is or can be ours, because through him we have a response from God: Be patient with me. I have a plan. What I ask of you is faith, and because of by faith you will live. God graciously assures him that the just will not be disappointed, that the faithful will not be overcome by evil.
The Gospel contains two separate passages: a challenge to the apostles concerning faith and the short parable of a useless servant -originally addressed to the scribes and Pharisees who thought they could claim rights from God. Jesus says that with faith we can move mountains. How sad that we settle for molehills. If we were to utilize the truly dynamic gift of faith, we would be able to help restructure and renew the earth. As Jesus was unfolding his mystery and revealing many things divine, it’s not surprising that his apostles one day cried out, Increase our faith! Just prior to this cry for faith, Jesus was getting into some difficult topics: marriage, possessions, death, forgiveness, etc. And he was gradually calling them into an entirely new life. Obviously, they understood his ever-increasing request for them to trust him and believe in him. They understood that they would have to respond to him by faith. Hence, they began to pray for faith in him.
Faith can accomplish extraordinary things, but such accomplishments give no claim to a reward. We must realize that faith is a gift. The birth and the growth of faith come directly from God. Faith is a grace beyond nature that we hold in our frail hands; its only danger is sin. As sin increases, faith decreases. The more we rely on our own effforts, the less we trust the workings of God. Jesus’ parable about the master and the servant reminds the apostles and ourselves that spreading the faith is sharing a divine gift that is not ours to own but to share, a gift granted to be given again and again. The Christian, by virtue of his faith, is a servant whose main task should be praising God and serving men. Therefore, in the end we have done no more than our duty.