THEME: Facing the Challenges of Faith in Our Materialistic World

BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie



Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
Resp.Psalm 95:1-2,6-9
2Timothy 1:6-8,13-14
Luke 17:5-10

The greatest challenge in living or preaching the Christian life comes when what we experience is almost contrary to what we expect from the faith. Ordinarily, we believe that God will continue to protect us as long as we remain attached to Him. But when we see innocent people suffer terribly, and when we seem to see no positive signs coming from our endless prayers and fasting, our faith begins to shake and diminish. This is the great crisis in all the readings of this 27th Sunday of the liturgical year.

1. The first cry of frustration comes from the prophet Habakkuk in the first reading from Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4. The prophet laments to God over the increasing rate of violence and oppression in the society despite his repeated cries for protection: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise” (1:2-3). In this lamentation, Habakkuk expresses great disappointment with God for being so slow in coming to rescue the innocent and punishing the wicked. This, according to him, has emboldened evil doers and weakened the resolve of the just and innocent. The prophet, here, expresses the frustrations of many people even in our time in the face of the apparent reign of evil and wickedness. God, however, answers the prophet by saying that his justice and deliverance will surely come. What is needed is faith and patience. The person without patience easily perishes, but the righteous person lives by faith, which triumphs over many crisis moments.

2. These crisis moments can can easily undermine the zeal of the preacher of the faith. That is why Paul, in the second reading from 2Tim 1:6-8,13-14, urges Timothy to fan into a flame the spiritual gifts he received through the laying on of hands. The gifts that Timothy received are sufficient to withstand upheavals in the faith journey and apostolate. He did not receive gifts of timidity and cowardice but gifts of power and love and self control. He should activate all these forces and never give way to shame or shyness in bearing testimony to Jesus. What God tells us always in moments of weakness and crisis is that his grace is enough for us. So we have all the powers we need. We only need to activate them with boldness of faith.

3. One can, therefore, understand the response of Jesus to his disciples in the Gospel of today from Luke 17:5-10, when they ask him to increase their faith. The disciples are, no doubt, victims of frustrations and crises of failed expectations, as we ourselves daily face. They need more faith to move along with Jesus. But Jesus, while stressing the immense power of faith that is as little as a mustard seed, also warns them about being too anxious about results and recognition. As servants they should remain content that they have done what they are sent to do. Other things should be left to God in His own way and in His own time.

4. These words are very instructive. There is often the danger of thinking that the power depends on us or that we have laboured in vain because the society continues to grow faithless and immoral and violent. It requires faith to know that God acts in ways that are often invisible. The problem in our materialistic world is that people seek for immediate results. They go for what the eyes can see and what the senses can perceive. Hence, there is the ceaseless search for miracles and extraordinary events. This spirit of the age can also mislead the ministers of the faith, as they may resort to only what the senses can perceive. The consequence is the multitude of abuses and aberrations in the preaching and practice of the faith. It requires patience to keep believing, and in our type of society, such patience is terribly in short supply. However, our only hope is to keep believing that things will get better, knowing that God is a promise keeping Father.

So, as we hear His words today, may we not harden our hearts! Happy Sunday!

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