Increase our Faith     

October 2, 2022 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100222.cfm)

“I am losing my faith,” these were the words of my friend who has been in so much difficulties in her life recently. The pandemic affected so much their business and lost their investments. Then, her husband who was her inspiration and strength, her comfort and dearest friend, died of covid-19. She is left alone to take care of their three children and a burden to pay a surmounting debt.  She was frustrated, in deep sorrow and angry at God for letting all these happen to her and her family. She felt lost and confused if God is listening to her and truly present.

“How long must I endure this?” This was a question from my friend that I cannot also answer. I dare not offer any advice to her because I realized that my words would not be enough to bring comfort to her. I was afraid that I might bring more confusion to her. And so I listened to her and prayed with her to rediscover faith in the midst of those great trials and to find God in her most depressing and grief-stricken moments in life.

Prophet Habakkuk in our first reading also expressed such distress and hopelessness in the midst of an overwhelming suffering. “How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen!” Habakkuk seemingly felt the absence of God amidst the misery and violence he had witnessed.

At this time, the tragedy and suffering of the people were caused by themselves. Prophet Habakkuk lived during the time when their political leaders, their kings, committed grave sins against God and the people. In particular, King Jehoiakim led his people into evil. He was a corrupt and a godless tyrant who murdered his own people, violated the wives of the men who were against him and then seized their properties to be his own.

This was the situation of their nation under such ruthless leader. And with this, there was also an overpowering foreign kingdom of the Babylonians who threatened smaller kingdoms. There was a coming destruction that Habakkuk had already seen.

Thus, the prophet prayed in behalf of the people, “How long, O Lord?” The suffering of the people, the violence and misery that they were enduring seemed to be endless. Yet, the prophet still hoped and held on to his faith. This is what we have heard at the end of first reading, “and for the just one, because of his faith, shall live.”

The invitation of faith is what we have also heard in today’s Responsorial Psalm, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Indeed, God speaks to us and God remains present even in the darkest and most painful story of our lives. That is why the Psalm calls us to sing songs of thanksgiving in God’s presence, to come to God and recognize that God is our God. We are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides. Therefore, we are not the one who is in total control of life, but God, something that could be very difficult for us to understand.

Such realization is what we also find among the apostles of Jesus, who asked the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The apostles realized the their faith might not be enough to become worthy of Jesus. They became concerned that they might not be in control of their lives and lose their way.  Before this request, Jesus told them of the significance of a person who has faith and that is to be able to lead others to God’s presence and to be able to forgive.

This was the very context of that plead from the apostles. Their faith might not be enough to lead the people closer to God and might even lead many to evil just like Jehoiakim, the corrupt and godless tyrant. Their faith might not be enough to forgive others because they might turned to become bitter, hateful and vengeful. Their faith might not be enough when great suffering and persecution will come in their life. They might lose their faith.

Yet, the Lord assured them that even when faith is just as the small size of a mustard seed, that can make wonders in us. This is something that Paul also reminded in his second letter to Timothy. Paul who was already old and was in prison became more confident and assured in his faith despite the persecutions and the suffering he was enduring.

Paul reminded and comforted the young Timothy of the gift he received. Timothy was gifted with faith. Thus, Paul said, “stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands” (speaking of the gift of ordination). God gave Timothy power, love, and self-control. This was how Timothy was told neither to be ashamed nor to be a coward to become a witness of the Lord, a witness of God’s presence and of God’s goodness even in the midst of evil and suffering.

With all of these, this 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time tells us and reminds us that…

First, faith is our loving response to the Lord who is ever faithful to us and ever present even when we feel that he is not.

Second, faith is our power and our strength especially in times of hardships or in times of miseries and in times of confusion and great trials.

Third, faith is not just a mere adherence to creeds or traditional religious practices that we have. Rather, faith is our active response to God who has called us to be his witnesses, to become Jesus’ present-day apostles who shall bring others closer to the Lord through our own experiences of God working in our life. Kabay pa.

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