Shikrot Mpwi – Sunday Synopsis with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk
Twenty-seventh Sunday of the Year, C – October 2, 2022.
Readings: Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4; Responsorial Psalm Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14; Gospel Lk 17:5-10.
Theme: A Faith that Moves Mountains
In the first reading, the prophet Habakkuk is overwhelmed with the violence around him. The second reading recommends that we take as our norm the sound words that we hear from the apostle in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The gospel starts on a note of requisition – The apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith. A requisition that becomes a reference point for would be disciples. What is interesting is the ability of the apostles to ask for the gift of faith. We are challenged to embrace patience even as we develop a faith that moves mountains.
Our Sunday liturgy centres on the theme of faith which the penny catechism defines as “the supernatural gift of God which makes us believe without seeing whatever God has revealed.”
The Letter to the Hebrews (11:1) lends credence to this definition when it says: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” The conceptions above confirm the biblical dictum, “For we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Over the years, I have settled for the definition of faith which describes it as, “the coat that warms us of the cold of unbelief.”
Background and Summary of the readings
In the first reading, the prophet Habakkuk is overwhelmed the violence around him. The Assyrian army destroys one city to another killing people. He laments why God tolerates evil deeds and does not stamp out injustice, oppression, strife and terror. While the prophet clings to God’s faithfulness and love, divine response comes slowly but surely.
In the second reading, (2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14) recommends that we take as our norm the sound words that we hear from the apostle in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus, connects with the first reading and the gospel.
The gospel (Lk 17:5-10) starts on a note of requisition. The apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith. The reason is not farfetched – in previous chapters of Luke, Jesus had laid before them the cost of discipleship and implications of scandalising little ones. By so doing, they knew that following him was not by power or might (Zechariah 4:6). They needed Jesus to consolidate their faith – A requisition that becomes a reference point for would be disciples.
Jesus had had to ask the disciples “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25) when they were in a boat with him and a storm occurred. He also had prayed for Peter so that his faith would not fail knowing he was going to betray him (Luke 22:32). What is interesting is the ability of the apostles to ask for the gift of faith.
1. Ask for an increase in faith: At a time when we are suffering from the crisis of faith occasioned by the twin evils of secularism and modernism, all we should be asking God for is an increase in faith – We must position our faith-journey on the pedestals of incremental and exponential growth as this is where the quality and not quantity of our faith counts as indicated in the parable of the mustard seed.
2. Take a leap of faith: Vima Disan holds that just as the power of a seed does not depend on its quantity but its quality, we should not delude ourselves that the more prayers we say, the more faith we have, and the more good works we do, the stronger our faith – He contends that “True faith, in other words, is to the soul what a mainspring is to a watch.” This is the faith that makes you risk taking a taxi without asking the driver if he has a license; it is the faith that makes an expectant mother to endure the rigours of prenatal period.
It also is the faith that makes a farmer to scatter 10 bags of rice on the ground with the expectation of a bumper harvest; it is the faith that makes a household go to bed with the hope that the watchman keeps vigil; it is the faith that makes children look up to their parents for life’s answers – the list appears endless.
Interestingly, Lois Malcolm distinguishes between (a) the faith that “moves mountains” from (b) basic trust in God or Christ. It would appear that our notion of “a faith that moves mountains” is a supernatural faith that acts in an El Dorado or James Bond fashion and is often hatched by external factors while “basic trust in God” is our personal internal believe in God.
On the contrary, faith in God does not immune us from trials, temptations and tribulations. God does not promise us a turbulence-free flight. He, however, assures us of safe landing. This is where Jesus’ teaching on faith becomes relevant. Jesus compares this faith which Dasan says, draws poison from every grief, takes the sting from every loss and quenches the fire of every pain with a tiny mustard seed.
3. Be patient: Our liturgy calls us to allow the soil of the faith we received at baptism be cultivated, watered and nourished by the Holy Spirit. It is by so doing that as confirmed and communion-receiving Catholics, we would be better disposed to grow in that same faith like the proverbial mustard seed which becomes a shrub.
4. Demonstrate faith in action: We are called to demonstrate faith in action – a faith by which the just one shall lives as the first reading (Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4) insists.
Referring to faith, the scripture says: “This is what the ancients were commended for…” (Hebrews 11:2). This means that we shall get the crown of glory only when we take a leap of faith and counterbalance the qualms of our daily struggles with a total surrender to Jesus by whom we live and move and have our being.
In the wake of the current hike in the prices of goods and services in our country occasioned by the economic recession, we continue to market hope premised on the faith that there shall be light at the end of the tunnel.
5. Fan into flames the gift of God: St. Paul desires that we stir into flame the gift of God that we received during our consecration to Christ because God did not give us the spirit of cowardice but rather of power, love and self-control.
1. In the first reading, the prophet Habakkuk is overwhelmed the violence around him.
2. The second reading recommends that we take as our norm the sound words that we hear from the apostle in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
3. The gospel starts on a note of requisition – The apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith.
4. A requisition that becomes a reference point for would be disciples.
5. What is interesting is the ability of the apostles to ask for the gift of faith.
Our liturgy calls us not to be ashamed of our testimony to the Lord but bear our share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God – May we always remember that real gold is only known when it undergoes testing by fire bearing in mind that true faith is known by trials. As the mustard metamorphosed into a shrub, may our faith blossom and move the mountains of lack, sickness, unemployment and premature death in our lives. Amen