Increase our faith!
Readings: Hab 1, 2-3. 2, 2-4; Ps 95, 1-9; 2 Tim 1, 6-8.13-14; Lk 17, 5-10
The Word of God for us on the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time C invites us to call to mind the word of St. Paul to the Romans: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8, 28). Our faith and trust should be strong enough not to be shaken even amidst difficulties and challenges. We ought to thank God for the gift of faith which helps us to understand life with all its paradoxes. Let us, with gratitude, fan the flame of faith!
The prophecy of Habakkuk helps us to redefine faith and invokes the patience that should characterize all those who have faith in God. Faith, thus, means acting from within the darkness while counting on the light that is to be revealed. God allows us to express ourselves openly in prayer. This doesn’t mean that we don’t trust Him; rather, it helps us to deepen our trust in Him. It is, in fact, the trust we have in God that moves us to cry out incessantly to Him. Faith helps to patiently wait for God’s timing. Psalm 130 encourages us to cry out to God: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord…I wait for the Lord, my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning…” This faithful prayer opens new horizons. The more our cry leaps out from the depths of our misery, our suffering, the more honest the cry and the more genuine our heart’s attitude. Prayer is possible because one trusts in the loving kindness and mercy of the Lord. In His steadfast love God’s is bent towards our misery. To have faith in God means, bending our hearts to Him. In fact, credo Latin = I believe, means “cor- dare Latin” (giving Him our heart). Let us remember that there is a difference between: “I believe that God exists.” and “I believe in God.”! The first one can be theoretical where the second one involves the readiness to surrender one’s life to God.
St. Paul, writing to Timothy, reminds us also that we possess a deposit of faith in us. The Holy Spirit makes this faith alive in us. When we are confronted with all sorts of attacks, false teachings and, many times, self-proclaimed prophets, we ought to have recourse to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews warns us about strange teachings: “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Heb 13,9). The Holy Spirit that dwells in us helps us to discern (distinguish) the diverse spirits that fight for our attention. While living our faith, we do not need to forfeit our God-given gift of reason. This saves us from all sorts of manipulation and fanaticism. A sound combination of faith and reason prevents us from falling into wild fundamentalism. The Spirit that makes our faith alive leads us to act more bravely than we humanly think. Let us never underestimate the power of our faith, for with God we can leap over barriers. There are many ma-made barriers like racism, tribalism, segregation, selfishness etc. that the leap of our Christian faith can help us overcome. If anything should fail, try to give the Spirit in you a chance to strengthen you in self-control! This can be manifested in the choices you make, in what and how much you eat and drink, in what you say about others!
The text that precedes the request of the disciples in today’s Gospel is worth noting: “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ´I am sorry` you should forgive him.” (Lk 17, 3-4). Immediately after this saying of Jesus, the disciples say: “Increase our faith!” (Lk 17, 5). They have been witnesses of what faith can accomplish in Jesus. They are asking for more. Jesus wishes the disciples to have faith as much as the mustard seed. The smallest amount of faith can do miraculous things. We ought to look into our lives and see the traces of what our faith has led us to accomplish. There is still a lot that faith is calling us to achieve in the present but also in the future. When we ask for growth in faith, we are not to think so much about what we can do, but about what God can do in us. The little we manage to accomplish through our “mustard-seed-faith” should not move us to think that we are meriting God’s grace. As Christian disciples we are not in business to earn gold stars. No. We are unworthy servants; we do what is our duty. Never be elated for doing good and being good! Jesus tells us: “Let them see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven!” (Mt 5,16). Our faith (however little it may be) is relevant today as we struggle with the day-to-day challenges. There are many “sycamores” that we are invited to uproot especially in our relationship with one another. The disciples needed increased faith in order to practise forgiveness. Are we not in need of it? Do we find it hard to forgive our brothers and sisters? Let us not be tempted to do it alone, but let us allow God in us to do it. If we are experiencing a mountain of problems, let us have faith and tell those problems that we believe in God who is stronger than them! Will our faith always perform miracles? May be not! But let us be moved by the desire to grow in faith; let us do our “bit” and let God do His might! May our faith grow while trying to do God’s will as a sign of thanksgiving for what God does in our lives! The 2nd October is normally the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Our faith in God tells us that we are uniquely precious in the eyes of God that he has given each one of us a guardian angel. God surrounds us with His protective presence. God cares. Yes. But this should not prevent us from taking care of ourselves. If you are a driver of a vehicle, believe in the action of your guardian angel, but please give your guardian angel a chance by stepping away from the acceleration pedal! Don’t drive faster than the guardian angel can catch you!