By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara



(HABAKKUK 1:2-3; 2:2-4; 2TIMOTHY 1:6-8, 13-14; LUKE 17:5-10)

Bishop Kasoma gave an analogy of a man who fell off a mountain cliff. Half-way down the cliff he succeeds in grabbing a branch of a tree. There he is, dangling on the branch, unable to pull himself up yet knowing that letting go of the branch he would fall to his death. Suddenly the man gets an idea. He looks up to heaven and shouts, “Is anyone up there?” A voice comes from heaven, “Yes, I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe in me?” The man shouts back, “Yes, Lord, I believe in you please help me.” The Lord says, “All right! If you really believe in me, you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Now let go of the branch.” The man thinks about it for a moment and then shouts back, “Is anyone else up there?”
If the man truly believes in God, why then does he not take God on His word? Many of us laugh at the story because we can recognize ourselves in this man. We believe in God, but when the going gets tough and things do not work out as we expect, we abandon God. We are people of little faith. The Liturgy of the Word today invites us to reflect on the sacredness of our daily lives. It calls us to find God in our faithfulness to daily duties and invites us to live by faith.
The first reading today is from the Prophet Habakkuk recounting to us an experience that perhaps many of us have had: praying to God for a particular favor and nothing happens! There are moments when it seems that all our efforts to get to a precise balance, switch over to the reverse; the more we push, the more we get a push-back. You may have had a rock-bottom experience in your finances or marriage. It could even be physical or spiritual challenges that make you defenseless. You know those moments when you are not sure of the next line of action. We can think of parents praying for faith for their children and nothing happens. Habakkuk is telling us to be patient and wait. We must wait on God. Faith calls on us to believe that there is a God who really cares about us and in whose hands the whole world is resting.
We saw that also in the apostles but the big difference between us and the apostles is that whereas we often see ourselves as keeping the faith all right, the apostles see themselves as men of deficient faith. They know their faith lack something. So, in today’s gospel, they come to Jesus and say to him, “Lord, Increase our faith!” As the saying goes, he who does not know, and does not know that he does not know, is a fool. The apostles knew that their faith was not adequate. And they took steps to improve their faith. What steps have we taken to develop our faith?
So, the readings are teaching us that we must wait on the Lord. Many people spend much time in prayer, but very few exercise the faith they have in the course of their prayer. In the First Reading, God first dismisses the idea that He would not listen by stating that He would not disappoint, and even if he delays, it is worth the wait. We should not presume simply that because we cry out to God, then God will do exactly what we want. Luke puts this into an image of a master and a servant. No servant would expect to come into the house where he or she works and have the employer wait on him or her! Yet that is exactly how we seem to expect God to be with us at times!
My brothers and sisters, we are cautioned today about knowing our place in God’s plans. The disciples of Jesus are to understand themselves as servants to God and his plans. Even when God works wonders through us, with our mustard seed-sized faith, we must not seek praise. We are not in a blame game with God, our participation in God’s plans is God’s grace to us-nothing more, nothing less. When we have enough grace to cooperate with God, the work we do is nothing more than our obligation to God as faithful stewards. Be patient and wait on the Lord!
God bless you!

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