Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Useless Servants
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Homily for Sunday October 6 2019
There is a story about a veteran tightrope walker who dared to cross the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. This was before the 9-11 terrorist attack. Braving the strong winds and the dizzying height, the man, holding on to his balancing pole, successfully crossed from one tower to the other. On his way down the building, a TV news reporter interviewed him, “Sir, that was truly incredible! Are you going to do it again?” The man said, “Yes. And I will do something more next time.” “And what will you do?” the newsman was curious. The tightrope walker said, “I will cross the towers blindfolded. Do you believe I can do this?” The reporter answered, “Yes, I believe. I saw you do it just now. I know and believe that you can do it.” “Really?” said the man. “That would be great because I want to have the whole thing seen on TV! Bring your camera and I will have you on my back as I walk on the rope.” The reporter fainted!
In the Gospel, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” It was a humble admission on their part that their faith was weak. However, the response of Jesus to this request was unexpected. He told them the parable of the unprofitable servant. In the end, after fulfilling his duties, a true servant does not expect any reward or praise from the Master. He would be pleased to say, “I am a mere servant. I only did what I was obliged to do.”
Jesus is giving us two lessons. First, mature faith is expressed in our willingness to always put God’s will as the first priority in our lives. Our true happiness consists not in any expected reward, but in simply knowing that we have accomplished our duties in fulfillment of God’s will. Hence, we readily forget ourselves and work tirelessly for God, knowing that He will come to our aid at the best opportune time. The youthful St. Dominic Savio said, “Nothing seems tiresome or painful when you are working for a Master who pays well; who rewards even a cup of cold water given for love of Him.” The Scriptures says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be given you besides” (Mt 6:33).
Second, faith grows and increases in the hearts of humble people who are like little children. Humility and faith go together. After all, faith is the humble acceptance of the fact that we are nothing, and it is God alone who supplies us with everything. And so we turn to Him, knowing that He will not abandon or ignore us. This is very clear in the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “I am the maidservant of the Lord. Be it done unto me as you say.” The source of Mary’s greatness was in being an obedient and humble servant of the Lord all the days of her life. Humility is the fertile soil of the seed of faith.
God is our Master. We are His useless servants. We are “useless” or “unprofitable” because God does not need anything from us or from anyone else. He is absolutely complete and perfect. Yet because of His love for us, He allows us to serve Him, to be part of His saving mission. It is never our right to serve Him; it is only a privilege given to us. Hence, the mere opportunity to serve Him is already enough reward for us. And we do so in grateful recognition of His countless blessings and limitless mercy and love for us. St. Isaac Jogues puts it beautifully: “My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings.”
We always pray. But what do we ask from God? How many times have we prayed for an increase of faith? We may not realize this, but the lack of faith in God is one of the main reasons for the troubles in the world. People depend greatly on money and human power. But they are painfully aware of how fleeting and ephemeral these are. So they are in constant insecurity and fear. Fear of losing these things impels them to turn to other ways, mostly crooked and immoral ways. And that’s when troubles come. But the man of faith has no insecurities and fears whatsoever, for his life is rooted, not in those passing things, but in the Eternal God.
Lack of faith is also the source of man’s unhappiness. Many people worship and serve God. But at the back of their minds they think they are entitled to receive some reward, and they expect God to serve them in return. Failing to get what they expect, they are disappointed and frustrated, and they begin to search for another God. So, we witness nowadays the proliferation of false religions, all zealously proclaiming the Prosperity Gospel. This is precisely the warning of St. Paul to the Philippians: “For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their ‘shame.’ Their minds are occupied with earthly things” (Phil. 3:18-19).
On one occasion, Jesus asked this question, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). As we witness the massive exodus of people turning away from the true faith, let us examine ourselves: how strong is our faith? If we are still looking for miracles, if we are expecting for some reward, and if we are afraid of losing worldly conveniences, these are clear indications that our faith is still very weak. The Gospel this Sunday shows us that mature faith mainly consists in our willingness to serve God unconditionally, without counting the cost. The St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “We are at Jesus’ disposal. If He wants you to be sick in bed, if He wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if He wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, ‘I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.’ And this is our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord.”
In the midst of life’s uncertainties and troubles, let us hold on to Jesus who assures us, “And behold, I am with you always until the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). In the end, let the words of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of the youth, be our firm resolve and conviction: “It is better to be the child of God than king of the whole world.”
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Amsterdam St., Capitol Park Homes
Matandang Balara, Quezon City