September 26, 2016 by
David Jackson in
Reflections on Sunday Gospels
Increased faith of unprofitable servants.
Introduction: In all three readings today we hear of challenges to faith. In the first reading first the prophet Habakkuk speaks, then God speaks. In the second reading it is Paul speaking to Timothy. In the Gospel, first the Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith and then Jesus responds with several teachings.
Homily: In each of our three readings we hear about persons of faith: Habakkuk, Timothy and the Apostles. Yet we notice in all three readings that these people of faith need to grow in their faith.
In the first reading Habakkuk questions God: How long? Why? Why? He is not afraid to question God. In fact it would seem the sense of his questioning is more challenging God.
In the second reading Timothy is encouraged by Paul to “stir into flame the gift of God.” Timothy is a person of faith but seems to have lost something which he at one time had.
In the Gospel the Apostles ask Jesus to “increase our faith.” Their request may be connected with the previous teaching of Jesus: “if someone wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive.” They needed more faith to be able to do this. We do too.
Words of direction and encouragement are directed to each of these persons: To Habakkuk God says, “Write down the vision, for the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint, it will surely come, the just one, because of his faith will live.” So they must retell the vision. We must do the same. There is a suggestion here that in the eyes of God, and to the eye of faith, no situation is hopeless and nothing escapes the justice of God in the long term.
Paul directs and encourages Timothy: “stir into flame the gift of God, bear your share of the hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” Timothy too had received a vision from Paul in “the sound words that you heard from me.” He is told to “Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.”
Jesus tells the apostles: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed (the smallest of seeds that they knew), you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.” In other words even a little faith can work miracles. There are no impossible tasks or situations with God.
LESSONS FOR US:
1) Questioning or even challenging God does not mean that we are not people of faith. In these times we must retell the vision. In Proverbs 29:18 we read: “Where there is no vision the people perish.”
2) At times we must prod ourselves on with the sense of grinding duty. With the canonization of Mother Teresa we were made aware of the long periods of dryness she experienced in her life. Bear your share of the hardship which the Gospel entails. Saint Mother Teresa lived this. But Paul also reminds Timothy that faith needs to be stirred up. Fidelity requires rekindling. We must at times make a courageous analysis of the present situation and have a readiness to move forward in faith.
3) Sometimes we must keep ourselves helpless and small. We remember that we don’t earn salvation. It is a gift of God. But yet God asks of us our best efforts. Faith gives us a spirit of courage, energy and action.