YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: The righteous shall live by his faith, but you must take your share of suffering.
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: READINGS: Habakkuk 1: 2-3; 2: 2-4, Ps. 95, 2 Timothy 1: 6-8, 13-14, Luke 17: 5-10
Living in this world of sin from the time of the fall of our first parents makes suffering inevitable and so no one can pass through this world devoid of it or excluded from suffering of any kind. Even the process of our birth entails suffering and we hit into the world at birth with pains provoking cry. This is a reality we must keep in view. The book of Job introduces us to the reality of suffering even for the righteous like Job. The first reading from the book of Prophet Habakkuk makes us see the cry of pain of the Prophet. He does not cry for himself alone but does that for humanity at large. Who amongst us has never been in this predicament before? Who has not been in trouble and called upon God with faith and expected a quick answer but received either delay or total refusal? This is always a painful situation which speaks of untold suffering and tears. It challenges our faith and makes us question God like Job did. This is the same predicament of the prophet in the first reading. The prophet asks: Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “violence” and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongs and look upon troubles? Destruction and violence are before me, strive and contention arise.
Beloved, someone here may believe this to be his/her present predicament and would be saying in his/her heart that the prophet is speaking for him/her. Someone may even respond with tears right now because this defines his/her situation. The book of Ecclesiastes makes it clear that no experience we have now that has not been had before by succeeding generations and that nothing is new under the face of the earth. What you are going through now James says that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things only that you need to be strong in faith. Our righteousness is not a guarantee that we shall have it easy in this world rather we should expect more troubles in out battle to remain faithful. Jesus made it clear that those who follow him must do so with the cross which is suffering and pain. This was the predicament of St Theresa of Avila who asked God: When will you remove obstacles from the way of those who follow you? And the Lord responded that she should be silent and patient and that is how he treats his friends. Then she responded: That is why those who are your friends are very few. She did not remember in the face of the suffering that he said: My son if you want to follow me, prepare for an ordeal which is suffering and she must have forgotten when he said; there is no Father who does not discipline his sons, but at the time of discipline it is so painful but it is for later good. These truths St Theresa later picked up and retained in her faith practice, endured it and lived by it and later became a saint. Who is ready to stomach his/her suffering predicaments in faith and hope and be among the few friends of Jesus? Our prayerful request does not mean that we must get them all or have them so easy. It is not all that we ask for that is good by the judgment of God. Our faith and scripture teach us to wait, it seems slow, wait for it, it will surely come, and it will not delay. Even if it delays or does not come, you can do nothing about it but to accept it by faith.
Beloved, this must be why the Apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith. They must have said this because they have realized that our existence on earth is a journey of faith. Jesus answered them that a little faith is enough to do wonders not too much of it. He has already as he answered St Paul given us enough grace to move on and overcome every trial. Only patience is necessary; it keeps life going as if nothing is wrong. The patient dog eats the fattest bone. Faith sustains our patience while trust keeps us going and hope makes us strong and lasting. We must not allow doubt which breeds fear to set into our lives. Fear is an enemy and destroyer of faith because it is a product of doubt and it makes our faith redundant. Enkindle your faith and you will be a victor in your sufferings. This truth has been entrusted to us, we must guard it. We must always remember that we are in this world as mere servants even when we do our duty and keep the commands and feel we are righteous, we must always convince ourselves and believe and say that we are unworthy servants who have done our duty and deserve no praise.
Our prayer today is that God would sustain the faith we have and increase it as the apostles prayed and that he may endow us with the gifts of patience and hope which would destroy fear and timidity but give us the spirit of power and love and self control. We pray never to be tired of doing our duty towards God and neighbour and pray that whenever we hear God’s voice, we may not harden our hearts and that He may not also keep silence to our cry for help, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf