HOMILY FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: FAITH AND TRUST
BY: Fr. Jude Nnadi
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 2 2022
Readings: Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2.2-4; 2 Timothy 1:6-8;13-14; Luke 17:5-10
“Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but thee just one, because of his faith, shall live.” (Habak 2)
“The apostles said to the Lord: Increase our faith! The Lord replied: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree: Be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey you. Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field: Come here immediately and take your place at table? Would he not rather say to him: Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have ben commanded, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” (Lk 17)
The just shall live by faith (Ho dìkaios ek pìsteos zèsetai ): is a famous Greek phrase Paul the apostle placed almost as a title of his theological masterpiece, the letter to the Romans (1:17). This sentence is a quotation, translated from Hebrew and taken from the prophet Habakkuk (at the end of the 7th century BC). This phrase forms a general principle in the prophet’s interpretation of history: the perverse as well as the powerful trust only in their strength and ability and do not know they lean on a fragile and inconsistent reality that must someday collapse into nothingness; the just man has God as his stronghold and therefore will live because the Lord is a solid rock that does not falter even in the toughest storms of life.
The whole Gospel passage today is also woven on the theme of faith and trust, opened by a question from the apostles: “Lord! Increase our faith”. Jesus responds with two dazzling images. The first is like a sketch drawn with a single brushstroke but whose strength has tremendous effects. The mulberry tree has resistant roots, well attached to the earth, hard to uproot even by the strongest of the storms. Faith, even if small and similar to a microscopic seed like that of the mustard, has the ability to subvert fates, to overturn failure, transform history.
After having declared the divine power of faith, Jesus now returns in its actualization in man. He does this with a more relaxed parable but at first sight a bit annoying for our social sensitivity. He used a vulgar and preposterous master who we may doubt to be symbol of God. Psalm 123:1-2, presents this image with different features: “To you I have lifted my eyes, you who dwell in the heavens: my eyes, like the eyes of slaves on the hand of their Lords. Like the eyes of a servant on the hand of her mistress, so our eyes are on the Lord our God till he show us his mercy.” But Jesus in Luke had not said exactly the opposite about the Lord: “Blessed are those servants whom the master will find awake when he returns; I tell you the truth, he will put on his clothes, have them sit at the table and come and serve them.” (12:37)
This parable becomes clearer only if one hits the real protagonist. The dominant subject, in fact, is not the master with his behavior, but the servant with his attitude.
Hence, the faithful before God must choose an attitude of total abandonment, without calculations, contracts, or limits. There is no place for “economic” conception of religion; our relationship with God is not that which exists between an employer and employee which deserve precise and necessary clauses, rights, duties and requirements of justice. We are called to give ourselves lovingly to God; a relationship typical to nuptial love in which the donation is free and total and does not know hours and times, prizes and rewards.
Therefore, within the Christian community no one should demand greater prestige or honor because he has offered more important or more extensive services over time. Rather each must recognize that they are “useless/unprofitable servants”, happy to be able to give, love, sacrifice themselves for God and for others without the unnecessary logic of profit or entitlements. Paul in his conscience proper to faith, says that “neither he who plants nor he who waters is something, but God who makes it grow” (1 Cor 3: 7).
Faith, like love, does not complain, does not calculate rights, but a response the divine gift has ignited and provoked within us. A donation of love in which one would like to give everything to the beloved, even life itself. For the religion of obligation and minimum necessity; Jesus substitutes with the adherence of faith, for the spirituality of the precepts; Jesus substitutes with that of joyful freedom, for the calculation of merits Jesus substitutes with the primacy of grace. Therefore, our profound model is precisely in that “greatest love” witnessed by Christ who “though in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped at, but rather emptied himself even to accepting death only for love (Phil 2, 6-11).