19th Sunday after Trinity (OT 27C)
STM/SVDP, Toronto Oct 2, 2016
“Because of his faith, the just man shall live.”
The prophetic voice of Habakkuk is echoed by St. Paul: rekindle the gift of God that is within you. (2 Timothy) Faith is central to our lives if we are to live with God and for God.
The Gospel tells us that we must live by faith in Christ who loved us and gave himself on the Cross for us. (Galatians 2:20).
The world, though, can seem to us like it did in the seventh-century B.C. as the situation in Judah seemed to Habakkuk— i.e. to be under the control of God's enemies. The control of mammon seems to be everywhere in secular society. We face strife and discord and this can sometimes cause us to wonder, as the prophet does, why God doesn't seem to hear or intervene when we cry for help.
Everyone has had the experience of not being listened to – husbands/ wives/ children.
We are exhorted not to let our hearts be hardened by the trials we undergo. Israel forgot God’s mighty works, lost faith in God’s promise. They tested God in the desert, demanding a sign.
But God didn't redeem Israel from Egypt only to leave them to die in the desert. God didn't ransom us and give us what St. Paul calls "the good treasure entrusted to you" simply to abandon us in our struggles. God is our God and we are "the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand" even though at times both God’s mercy and justice seem long delayed.
If we call on the Lord, as the Apostles do in today's Gospel, God will increase our faith, and will stir the flame of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us from the day of our Baptism.
Our faith must, then, be strengthened by practice, by corporal and spiritual works of mercy, by celebrating the sacraments, by receiving Holy Communion regularly and by praying together for the needs of the Church and the world.
As Paul tells us in the Epistle, the Lord will always give us the love and self-control, "the spirit of power and of love" that we need to bear our share of hardship for the sake of the Gospel. Our strength comes to us, as does our faith, as a gift from God. Faith is not something we can conjure up on our own.
Our task is to continue doing what Christ has commanded us to do—to love and to build up God’s kingdom—trusting that the vision of Christ continues to press on to its fulfillment.
God’s vision still has time. One day, even though we may be only "unprofitable servants," we will be invited to eat and drink at our Master's table. It is that day we anticipate with each celebration of the Eucharist.