Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Faith: The Assurance and Stronghold of the Just
By: Faith: Rev. Fr. Christian ‘N. Okechukwu
Homily for Sunday October 6 2019
2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14; Luke 17:5-10
The transcendent and spiritual nature of God makes it difficult for humans to relate with Him at the level of natural reason and physical senses. We need a supernatural faculty that will enable us relate with God. We need faith. Hebrews 11:1 gives us a working definition of faith: “assurance of things hoped for, conviction of things not seen”. Our readings for today call our attention to the dynamics of faith.
The first reading is a lamentation from the prophet Habakkuk over the violence and strife that characterized the land of Judah. He made this complaint on the basis of God’s promise of salvation which he thought was long overdue. In response, God reassured the prophet that His word shall come to pass. God told him to take note of the renewed promise; it would surely be fulfilled; though it may appear to be delayed, its fulfilment is certain. He only needed to believe and wait patiently because the righteous shall live by faith.
The gospel reading begins with the Apostles’ request: “…increase our faith”. A careful observer will notice that this request may have been prompted by the experience of the apostles with Jesus; and this taught them that faith is indispensable in our relationship with God. They saw that Jesus attributed most of his miracles to the faith of the recipients or beneficiaries, saying, “your faith has saved or healed you”. They also recalled that he had blamed their inability to cope with or solve some problems, on their lack of faith. But besides all these, the immediate situation that occasioned this request was Jesus’ instructions in the preceding verses of the gospel passage: he was warning them against the danger of being an obstacle to others and the need to forgive one another. Obedience, to this instruction, and indeed, the entire Christian life, requires some degree of faith, hence the request for increase in faith. Jesus made them understand that if they had faith as little as mustard seed they can defy impossibilities.
1. The righteous shall live by faith: faith is the medium or domain where God encounters man and empowers man to thrive in difficult and sometimes, seemingly impossible, situations, making him emerge not just as survivor, but a victor. Faith is the strong hold of the righteous, where they can run and be saved (Prov.18:10).
2. Faith is the measure of righteousness: Since faith requires total trust in, and obedience to God, it becomes the basis for righteousness. This explains why Abraham’s faith was accounted as righteousness (Gen.15:6). This means that without faith we cannot please God ( Heb. 11:6), and for St. Paul, anything done without faith is sin (Rom.14:23). Indeed any sin being committed has its root in lack of faith.
3. God reassured Habakkuk of the steadfastness of His promise. He said though it may delay, but it must surely come to pass. God’s purpose in our life shall be fulfilled; just as rain or snow does not descend to the earth and goes back without watering the ground, the word of God about us cannot return void without fulfilling its purpose (Is.55:10-11). We are only required to believe and wait patiently for its fulfilment.
Faith enables us to believe in God and His word; to rely totally in His providence and wait patiently for His promise. Anyone with this kind of disposition can see, say and do things from God’s point of view. This spiritual aptitude can surmount any impossibility. But for our faith to attain this height it has to be professed and practiced. This was the “modus vivendi” (mode of life) of the great patriarchs whose faith was extolled in Hebrews 11.
PRAYER: May the entrance of God’s word into our life increase our faith and bring us to eternal life.
Rev. Fr. Christian ‘N. Okechukwu