HOMILY FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: THE LIVING POWER IN FAITH
BY: Rev. Fr. Stephen Dayo Osinkoya
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 2 2022
Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4
Psalm. 94:1-2, 6-9
2 Timothy. 1:6-8, 13-14
The prophet Habakkuk lived about 600 years before Christ, around the time of the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem. The Jews were in desperate shape, threatened by their enemies and falling apart internally. Their moral fiber was shredding. Corruption was reigning among them. Their religious practices had diminished to the point where they were only empty and formal rites which they merely externally observed. Spiritually they were in near collapse.
Habakkuk had the temerity to call God into an accounting, crying out:
How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
How many of us have heard those words in our own day? How many of us have heard them whispered in our own hearts and souls? obviously the situations that confront us today are not different from that of Israel, during the time Habakkuk was a prophet.
Many of us are very disappointed in God because certain expectations are not met. We have experienced loss, the loss of loved ones or disappointment in marriage, relationship and work and failure in business and even studies. We have experienced tragedy, and now our notion and confidence in God is shaken and sometimes even destroyed.
Hence the human experience and the challenges of our time indeed call for FAITH. And we like the apostles are asking “Lord increase our faith”
Give me a lever, long enough, and a place to put it on and I will move the world?” (Archimedes, Ancient Greek Scientist) What a claim! Surprising of course.
Theoretically, the claim of Archimedes is perfectly sound. But practically, it may seem an impossibility. However, in the spiritual realm, it is definitely possible. For, there is such a lever, and it is called ‘FAITH’; there is a place to put it on, and it is called ‘GOD’; and there is a power that can swing that lever, and it is called ‘MAN’. Put your faith in God and you would move mountain, just as Jesus assured his disciples.
But just how much faith do we need to be faithful Christians in our society today?
The answer is presented to us in the Gospel Reading of today, from St. Luke: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this sycamore tree, ‘Be uprooted and transplanted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Is it really true? Can it really happen?
Jesus uses this response to tell us that Faith is not measured in quantity but in quality. It is either we have it or we don’t. Just like the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and where the Holy Spirit is present, well, he is present. He can’t be a ‘little bit’ present; just as a woman can’t be a ‘little bit’ pregnant.
It appears to me that this is why, when the apostles said “increase our faith” Jesus took them immediately out of the area of quantity, and brought them to the smallest seed he could think of, the mustard seed.
Jesus could have said, for example: If your faith were the size of a grain of sand, or a speck of dust, but the point of the comparison with the mustard seed is that it is living; it has a living power which a grain of sand or a speck of dust does not have.
Just as a small weed can split a slab of concrete, or a mustard seed can produce a huge tree in which the birds of the air find shelter, so the living power of faith can move mountains.
Often people quote these lines “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this sycamore tree, ‘Be uprooted and transplanted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” to imply that if you had enough faith you could perform something extraordinary, something miraculous. This could well be the case. However, in the lines that follow (Lk 17:7-10) Jesus seems to imply something totally different. He talks about the fulfilment of duties. So, Jesus is saying, if we had faith like a mustard seed our ordinary activities of daily life could become extraordinary.
The secret of the living power which faith has is that it is built on the living word of God. The word of God is something alive and active. The power of this living word is transferred to us in the gift of faith and our ‘faith journey’ is, in truth, defined by the extent to which we surrender to the power of the word of God in us.
This is why St. Paul in his second letter to Timothy says “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God bestowed when my hands were laid on you” (2Tim. 1:6). We too as Christians, through baptism have received this gift of living faith; it is now our responsibility to grow in this gift of faith.
The faith we are talking about is the power to do good works, to remain steadfast in the face of difficulties, the faith that will enable us hold on to God irrespective of the turbulences in our lives and journey. It is equally, the faith that will help us to reasonably demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ when we are in difficult situations. Not faith to attempt suicide missions (like the Pastor who dared a lion in the zoo and was mauled by the lion), it is the faith that will help us persist in doing good even when everyone around us seems to follow the wrong things in vogue.
I feel many of us will see our workplaces today as challenging environments for us to be open about our Christian beliefs. Political correctness and rigid company policies have led many of us to compartmentalize our faith in an unhealthy and unnatural way. We often hear people say “I just leave my faith at the door when I get to work.” But, how can we possibly separate our spiritual selves from our physical being?
In Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council weighed in with this declaration: “One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and the practice of their daily lives…”
We are expected to go about our ordinary tasks in a responsible, devoted and self-giving way. Luke often uses the roles of the master and the servant or slave to talk about discipleship, faith and faithfulness. Here the point is that if being faithful Christians is our duty; which of course it is, then we can’t expect a reward. The bottom line is that obedience is not a means to some reward. It is simply what being an apostle and a disciple is about. Christ, in the Gospel, reminds his followers that they are ‘the faithful servants of God’ and that their humble submission is necessary to grow in faith.
Today’s message is an invitation to many of us who have found life to be unbearable because God seemed to have abandoned us or God seemed to be silent. Let us keep in mind that faith is trust, not certainty. We may not have immediate relief from our challenges, but God’s promises for us “… presses on to fulfillment, and it will not disappoint; if it delays wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:2-4) Our submission to God’s sovereign Will enables Him to forge for us a solution beyond our expectation.
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