27th. Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“A Faith That Works Miracles.”
Faith gives us a new vision of the world. Without it we see only the darker side of life. We are still slaves to sin. It is faith which liberates us and makes us see the Spirit of power and love at work in our lives.
In the first reading God, through the prophet Habakkuk, urges the people of Israel not to give up because of difficulties or situations that seem to shake and test their faith in God.
In the Gospel Jesus is telling us that faith is a very powerful force, capable of having effects not hoped for. Faith is never something that gives a right to expect rewards from God. It is a gift that helps us to understand life and fosters our happiness. We must be thankful to God for such a ‘free gift’.
At times we forget the gifts we have received. It is then necessary to ‘fan a flame’ and become once again aware of our privileged condition and of the responsibility that such a condition entails. This is what Paul advises us in the second reading.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible. These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings. These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings. ‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4.
Habakkuk lived about six hundred years before the coming of Christ. King Jehoiakim who liked lavishness, feasts, and large palaces held the political power; but he did not have the leadership qualities or the discipline to govern. He did not administer justice, he could not protect the weak and the poor and allowed violence and other forms of oppression. The situation was becoming impossible and the people went to the prophet Habakkuk in despair telling him: “Consult the Lord for us. We want to know what we should do, because we cannot continue like this.”
When things go wrong and there is no clear way to
set them right, we are liable to become extremely uptight. For example, the world today is filled with our failings to love each other. Consider all the acts of terrorism, abuses to woman and children, thefts, high-jackings, the exclusion of the poor and refugees from our societies, and our economies crippled by corruption and the unresolved problems of continuing hatred and selfishness. Even our own personal lives get out of line. As a result we often end up in outbursts of frustration. We must take heart; even the prophets experienced these kinds of ups and downs, as we see in the first reading for this Sunday.
The prophet believes and trusts in God and is angry; his cry is not a scream of despair but a cry that is rooted in faith. God tells Habakkuk to hold on. God knows the world’s problems better than we do. Although human freewill seems to have its way, Habakkuk believes that God will do something and his faith and trust is proved right. We often find ourselves in the same situation as the one of Israel being oppressed, and then we like Habakkuk ask God …why? The reply of God is always the same: “Keep on believing, do not abandon the way of justice! Maybe you now cannot understand the reasons for my tolerance, but be faithful all the same; one day you will see my intervention of salvation and will fully understand!”
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9.
Pilgrims used this Psalm as they approached the Jerusalem Temple. While they expressed their thanks and joy, a priest would speak in the name of God, warning them that they must not imitate their ancestors who through a lack of faith, hardened their hearts and tested God.
2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14.
Prophetic boldness is something which Paul demonstrated in his own life – not least when he faced the early opposition from the Jerusalem church. He therefore encourages Timothy to not only be a guardian of the faith he has received but also a minister of boldness. Paul writes to Timothy, “Hold to the standard of ‘sound teaching’ that you have heard from me, in the ‘faith and love’ that is in Christ Jesus. Guard the ‘good treasure’ entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.” As a prisoner himself, Paul asks Timothy to bear the hardships which fidelity to the Gospel brings in its wake.
Like the prophet Habakkuk, Paul’s boldness of spirit is rooted in his faith in God and is not silenced in suffering. Our understanding of the Master’s message is far from perfect and complete, it must keep growing. How many times as we read or listen to a part of the Gospel do we realize that we haven’t as yet understood, though we have heard it several times already? Our faithfulness, learning and understanding of the Word should be ‘alive and growing’ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
In the Gospel, the apostles ask Jesus to “increase our faith!” Jesus replies, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” A mulberry tree is known for its deep roots. It is very difficult to uproot it. Besides, how can you plant a tree in the sea? Jesus was telling the apostles, and us, that what is impossible for us is not impossible for God. The message again is to “hold on with faith”. A faith that is rooted in God is capable of a boldness that is awesome. The point that Jesus makes is that the day is won not by our works but by God’s power. No matter how impossible the picture, God’s power can, and will, make it right. We must hold on to our faith no matter how difficult the circumstances may become.
What was thought impossible now becomes possible because of faith in Jesus. There may be many things in our culture that are so deeply rooted that they seem impossible to change, such as corrupt and dangerous practices, fear of witchcraft, oppressive attitudes towards women and children, hatred between ethnic groups or families. Yet, a little bit of real faith in Jesus can change all this. Faith can change bad habits, oppressive cultural customs and racial, ethnic and gender prejudices.
Jesus follows up the request of the apostles to increase their faith with a ‘parable on the attitude of a slave towards his master’. A slave recognizes and accepts that his or her duty is to serve the master. There is total submission to what the master requires to be done because of an inner conviction that he/she belongs completely to the master. The slave does not even expect gratitude for what he/she has done. It is as though the slave ceases to exist as an independent individual. Such an attitude is only possible when the slave has total trust in the master and knows that the master is not out to exploit, punish or oppress. Are we aware that the ‘Master’ we serve is the Lord? Jesus has such a total trust in his Father and so he is always ready to do what he asks. He makes himself a servant of others. The disciples are to follow this example of Jesus and be ready to be servants. We are to be at the disposal of the Lord and ready to serve each other.
The Gospel concludes with a gentle dig at our human pretensions before God. Jesus says, “Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? Also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” We must not expect a reward, for the ‘joy of serving’ the Master (and our neighbour) must be enough for us. In our works, we must always proceed with a humble attitude. We can never put God in our debt and can never have any claim on him. ‘When we have done our best, we have only done what he expected of us’. Humility is one of the greatest virtues in Christianity, without it all other virtues become tested and lose value.
We must fan into flame the gift of faith that God has given us … that ‘enormous potential’ received in baptism, accepted with its responsibilities at confirmation and nourished in the Eucharist.
Christian discipleship is not the business of earning gold stars or meriting God’s grace. If we are invited to the Lord’s Table, it is through God’s graciousness and not our righteousness or worthiness that we will be seated.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following
27th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Many Christians struggle with the question of loyal dissent and how one can both honestly and faithfully express this dissent. When we pray to our Father we need to express our concerns truthfully and respectfully, without holding anything back. Let us pray for understanding God’s way. Mon. … Faith, by definition, means acting from within the darkness, counting on the ‘true Light’ to be revealed. Are we prepared to take that step of faith into the darkness when the so-called wisdom of the world tells us that it is crazy? Tues. … Many of us prefer to remain cautious by waiting for the vision to arrive in order to put our trust in it, but we will be disappointed. When our hope is yet unseen and we commit ourselves to an act of faith, the fruits of our faith and trust will reward us. God’s timetable for the journey of salvation is not for us to know or plan. Wed. … Timothy and his community are beset with attacks of false teachings and self-proclaimed gurus of truth that deny in part or in whole the Gospel that Paul preached. Christian faith is always the same and not a word of the Gospel can ever be changed. However our understanding of the Master’s word is far from perfect and must keep growing. Thurs.… Jesus tells us that the tiniest seed of faith will provide the power to uproot negative reactions. We all have been given faith the size of a mustard seed at our Baptism. What is stopping us from using it? Frid. … Christian discipleship is not the business of earning gold stars or trying to merit God’s grace through a bonus-point system. We must never expect a reward, for the joy of serving must be enough for us. If we are invited to the Lord’s Table, it is through God’s graciousness and not our righteousness that we will be seated. Sat. …The tiny seed of faith and our willingness to serve God and others are turning the world’s values upside down. We believe in a God who gives us a spirit of boldness to speak out, not timidity to hide and be too afraid to speak what is in our hearts. He is our Father and is always approachable. He will always listen, despite what you may be tempted to think.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, help to us to fan into flame that gift of faith that you have given us; that ‘enormous potential’ received at Baptism and accepted with all its responsibilities at our Confirmation. We pray Lord that You constantly nourish that faith within us through Your Holy Eucharist and Your Word.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.