Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday of the Year (C) (06th October, 2019) on the Gospel
Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4;Ps 94:1-2.6-9. (R. v. 8);
Topic: Faith and service to God.
The apostles might have realised that it is only through faith that one can do the will of God, or heard Jesus taught, “...whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matt 21:22) among other possibilities. They also witnessed Jesus’ miracles, cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; 15:28, and so on. However, when they tried, the story was not the same, cf. Mk 9:14-29. And maybe they thought that the size of their faith was faulty. Hence, they requested in today’s gospel, “Increase our faith!”
Faith according to the Letter to the Hebrews is “… the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Faith is very important even in our daily lives. Without faith nobody will venture into anything; one going to the hospital has faith that he/she will be cured, the person eating has faith that the food will satisfy his/her hunger and also nourish the body, and so on. The psalmist wrote, “I kept my faith, even when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted’” (Ps 116:10). It is important to ask ourselves what happens to our faith when we face difficulties.
In reply to their request Jesus said to them: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you”. The size of the mustard seed is well-known to many if not all.
Considering some of the teachings of Jesus: “... Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will be done” (Matt 21:21). Again, “whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith" (Matt 21:22), among other passages, we will see anyone who has not physically raised the dead, make the dumb speak, deaf hear and so on as a faithless one. Hence the jumping from one prayer house to another, from one man of God to another, from one Church to another, and so on. If one considers how people do the jumping, it looks as if they have embarked on the census of churches or that of prayer houses.
Although the necessity of faith cannot be overemphasized but it does not literally mean that everything we want will happen the way we want them. No doubt, some might see this as something bizarre or even unscriptural. Assuming someone with a very strong faith prays for the death of an innocent man/woman, what do you expect God to do – kill or leave? If He takes the person’s life, for what and if not, will it not be seen that the prayee is faithless?
Jesus also said, “... when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘we are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done’”. And part of what we are ordered to do is to have faith. Ours is to have faith and God’s to see things happen according to His will. Hence, irrespective of our faith, we still pray, “your will be done” (Matt 6:10).
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews rightly wrote: “And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11:6). If we really have faith, there will be no need for jumping around. Some undergo terrible experiences in search of these so-called miracles even in the hands of these men and women of ‘God’. Going from one place to another is an act of faithlessness. Faith is “… the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. There is an Igbo adage: ụtọ ndụ anaghị ekwe ka a mara nke a nọgoro. As we seek for one thing or another we forget all that God has done for us and through us. We should always say with the psalmist: “Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise?” (Ps 106:2). The gate of heaven is open but for only those who keep faith, cf. Is 26:2. And for Prophet Habakkuk, the righteous shall live by his faith (Hab 2:4).
Just as we have seen that without faith we cannot serve God, we should pray to God the source of faith to give us this gift so as to do his will.
Bible Reading: Heb 11.
Thought for today: Do you have faith?
Let us pray: God, source of faith, we implore you to give us true faith that will enable us serve you in this world because without it we cannot please you – Amen.
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