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6 October Sunday

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time,

The Word

Hab 1,2-3; 2,2-4 / 2 Tim 1,6-8.13-14 / Lk 17,5-10

 

Hab 1,2-3; 2,2-4

 

How long, O LORD, must I cry for help

and you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, "Violence!"

and you do not intervene?

Why do you let me see iniquity?

why do you simply gaze at evil?

Destruction and violence are before me;

there is strife and discord.

Then the LORD answered me and said:

Write down the vision;

Make it plain upon tablets,

so that the one who reads it may run.

For the vision is a witness for the appointed time,

a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint.

If it delays, wait for it,

it will surely come, it will not be late.

See, the rash have no integrity;

but the just one who is righteous because of faith shall live.

 

2 Tim 1,6-8.13-14

 

Beloved:

I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.

Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us.

 

Lk 17,5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

“Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?  Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you.  When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

 

In other words…

 

“That I have given you ice cream is a fact” — a young man said to a young woman. “That I finished it all is also a fact,” the young woman replied. “That you love me, however, is faith,” the young man retorted.

We often contrast faith with fact, if not with reason, just as we contrast religion with science. Each time a scientific research is conducted, its primary purpose is to collect empirical evidence in order to develop or support a theory and build knowledge. The conventional notion is that observable fact is the foundation of reason and the backbone of science. While this is universally adhered to, many people are led to the assumption that where facts are lacking, faith must be summoned. Faith therefore is often perceived as ill-disposedto empirical evidence. Worse, believers are sometimes considered as unscientific.

In today’s gospel, the disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith. Jesus replied by saying that if a person’s faith were the size of a mustard seed, he/she can already do many great things. The analogy of a mustard seed underlines a faith that is alive, dynamic and operative, so that although starting small, it shall eventually grow big.

To a person who professes to have faith, the assurance of Jesus is this: “You could say to a mulberry tree ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea’, and it would obey you.” This is not just a metaphor. The Lord is basically telling us that our faith must produce observable results and compel us produce something tangible.

In the second part of today’s gospel, the Lord speaks about service, and explains what a servant is expected to do. There is a critical point to be made here: faith must lead to service. “Faith without action is dead” (James 2:17).

A farmer exhibited at a fair a pumpkin grown in the exact shape and size of a large jar. Explaining how he did it, he said: “When the pumpkin was still as small as my thumb, I placed it in the jar and just allowed it to grow. When it filled the jar, it stopped growing.”

Service operates in the same way. It can be only as big as the “jar” of our faith. Put another way, the quality and extent of our service to God is proportional to the depth of our faith in the Lord. We need faith to move the trees of despair, topple down mountains of worries, and bring peace into our hearts. Hence, we need our faith to grow big and strong so that we can accomplish more for the Lord.

It is not accurate to say that faith does not demand empirical evidence. On the contrary, the size and authenticity of our faith can only be measured by the magnitude of the factual proof we produce. A life of service substantiates our faith in the Lord. A heart of compassion validates the depth of what we truly believe.

 

– Fr. Soysi Cellan, SVD (Kenya)