FR. GERALD MUOKA HOMILY FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME OF THE YEAR C
THEME: FAITHLESS-FAITH CHRISTIANITY
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 2 2022
R1 – Hab 1:2-3, 2:2-4 R2 – R2 – Tim 1:6-8, 13-14 GOSPEL – Luke 17:5-10
An old woman regularly read the Bible before retiring at night. One day she came across the passage that said: “If you have faith as little as a mustard seed and ask the mountain to go away, it will go.” She decided to test the efficacy of the passage. There was a hillock behind her house. She commanded the hillock to go away from there and went to bed. In the morning she got up as usual and remembered her command to the hillock. She wore her spectacles and peered through the window. The hillock was there. Then she muttered to herself, “Ah! That’s what I thought.” What she thought was that the mountain would not move. While her outer mind gave the command, her inner mind was convinced that she was giving a futile order. She did not have even an atom of faith!
Beloved in Christ, the theme of faith is the nucleus of the three readings of today’s liturgy. Jesus invites us to reexamine our faith in God. Sad enough, most Christians like the faithless woman in the introit story only profess faith in God without having recourse to practical and lived-out faith experience.
In the first reading, we witness the prophet Habakkuk’s cry for help. He was a man of faith, who believed that, “Even the righteous cannot please God without faith” (Hab 2:4). Habakkuk, probably lived during the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. He was always a source of encouragement to his fellow Jews to retain their Faith during their time of trial.
Today, he faithfully cried out to God in a devastating and distressful time in the history of his people. It was a terrific moment that preceded the Babylonian invasion. He complains to Yahweh that the enemies have ravished their territories. In His message, God said that there is still a vision for the appointed time which speaks of the end and does not lie.
In the second reading, St Paul exhorts his spiritual son, Timothy, to hold on to faith, not just by profession, but living it out in praxis. Paul encourages him to fan into a flame the gift that God has given him, namely the gifts and charisms of the Spirit, which is faith.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus reminds us that the qualitative dimension of Faith is far more valued and important in God’s presence than its quantitative measure. In reacting to the apostle’s request to increase the quantity of their Faith, Jesus replied, “If you had faith like a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.”
Invariably, Jesus means, just a small amount of deep and qualitative Faith can accomplish great things if that small amount of Faith is placed in a great, mighty, and all-powerful God. Using a master-servant parable, Jesus also teaches us, that faith entails an active submission to God with the intent to do whatever He commands.
*THE FAITHLESS-FAITH CHRISTIAN*
The theme, Faithless-Faith Christianity, is indeed paradoxical, in the sense that it sounds contradictory. This contradiction is undeniably the fate of the Faithless-faith Christian, who contradicts himself by believing and at the same time not believing.
So, the concept of Faithless-Faithful Christianity is adapted here to represent the Christian who processes faith without practice; the Christian who goes to church in the morning and consults the native doctor at night; the Christian who believes in Christ but does not believe in some of the doctrines and teachings of the church; the Christian who remembers God only when there is fire on the mountain; the Christian who jumps from one church to another; the Christian who believes more and pursues the man of God instead of the God of man.
So, in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to a qualitative faith-based Christianity that is measured by three factors:
(i) Faith means “trust.” Here Faith is seen as confidence and certainty in the Absolute (Hebrews 11:1).
(ii) Faith refers to assent to Christian doctrines taught by Jesus and the Church.
(iii) Faith refers to a “bond” or “relationship,” with the three persons of the Blessed Trinity.
Thus, the absence of any of these dimensions of faith, turns lands one into faithless-faith Christianity.
(1) *FAITH REQUIRES A DUTIFUL AND AND PRACTICAL RESPONSE*
One plausible lesson from today’s parable is the need to integrate a faith-work Christian practice.
We can only increase our Faith by becoming dutiful servants of God. A dutiful-practical zealous Christian speaks more convincingly to his neighbourhood about the need for God and an upright life through his or her own daily actions than through explaining religious doctrines. A sincere Christian can find many ways to help to make Christ known to his neighbor. A quiet word, a charitable gesture, an unselfish can do more good than a series of sermons given by some renowned theologian.
(2) *GENUINE FAITH REQUIRES RISK-TAKING*
It was Soren Kierkegaard who once affirmed that faith is a risk, and the more risk you take, the more faith you have. It’s indeed a risky adventure to uproot and plant the mulberry tree in the ocean. It requires risk. The belief in an unseen God is a risk that worths taking. Why not take the risk and join the millionaires of the Christian faith, viz: Agatha, Lucy, Paul, Gerald, etc.
Finally, there is a told of a man who fell off a mountain cliff. Half-way down the cliff he succeeded in grabbing the branch of a tree. There he was, dangling on the branch, unable to pull himself up yet knowing that letting go of the branch he would definitely fall to his death. Suddenly the man got an idea. He looked up to Heaven and shouted, “Is anyone up there?” A voice came from heaven, “Yes, I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe in Me?” The man shouted back, “Yes, Lord, I believe in You. I really believe. Please help me.” The Lord says, “All right! If you really believe in Me, you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Now let go of the branch.” The man thinks about it for a moment and then shouts back, “Is anyone else up there?”
Beloved, faith requires risk indeed. We must be ready to leave behind all that keeps us in the dark, in order to experience the light of faith.
May the Good Lord help us to always walk by faith and not by sight. May He strengthen us through the power of the Holy Spirit not to doubt the revealed mysteries of faith. Amen.