22 Oct Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
My homilies are never solely my own creative act. In giving you a copy of this homily I would like to state first and foremost that there will be little original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel or issue of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it: ‘tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time. If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures and/or the Spiritual Life.
God bless you.
The Readings cover a lot of ground today…Faith, Duty, Humility, Gratitude.
In the first reading the prophet Habbakuk is saying, the people are suffering, why are you not listening God?
2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? I would hazard to guess we have all been there…We have all said this at one time or another when nothing seems to be going as we plan or when we have had to face something that is more than we think we can handle. I remember my dear brother, God bless him, six and a half years ago, the night his 21 year old son was killed in an accident, saying: “How can I go on?” I remember sitting with my arms around him saying, we’ll get through this, God will get us through this.”…In what was the most tragic experience of his life, assuring him, what the prophet Habbakuk tells us in our reading today: the Righteous live by Faith.
In various ways we all have faced times that seem more than we can handle: our living situations, discord in families, loss of a loved one, loss of financial security, some form of health crisis…“How can I go on?” has come to many of us.
What is God’s response to Habbakuk? “Have Faith.” The just person lives by Faith.
This section from the prophet Habakkuk reminds me of a song that topped the Christian Music charts a few years ago called…Strong Enough by Matthew West.
Very similar to Habakkuk, addressing God it says:
You must think I’m strong
To give me what I’m going through
Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I’m wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own
[Chorus] I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Then like Habbukuk , in Faith the chorus goes on crying out to the Father:
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
For the both of us
Then in the song Matthew West quotes, what he says is his favourite piece of Scripture, and I must admit mine also: Philippians 4:13
“I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength”
Matthew West wrote this song after receiving letters from so many people who just felt they couldn’t handle what they were going through.
In light of all this the message of today’s gospel seems very harsh.
Isn’t Jesus being harsh with the servant in this parable? The servant works hard and humbly submits to his boss, day after day. Dutifully fulfilling every task given to him
Then Jesus says he should look for nothing in return, no rest, no reward or recognition, no special treatment: after all, he is just doing his duty.
It strikes us as rather cold. We immediately feel sorry for the servant.
And yet, we shouldn’t. Christ’s point is that his love for us doesn’t depend on our “performance“.
God’s love for each of us is already so total, personal, unconditional, and untiring that nothing we do can increase or decrease it. We have to remember this in the good times and the bad. We cannot do anything to merit God’s love. We can’t do anything to lose God’s love. God’s love is always constant.
The meaning of our lives doesn’t come from anything we have or have not done. The meaning of life comes from how deeply we realize the fact that God created us out of love, redeemed us out of love, and guides us towards heaven purely out of unconditional, overflowing love.
This puts a whole new light on the servant in the Gospel. The servant in God’s Kingdom in response to God’s love for him wants to work energetically, joyfully, and peacefully…Why…This is the servant’s response to God’s totally gratuitous love for him…a response of gratitude for God’s gifts – only considering what he’s going to get in return is to spend eternity with God.
God’s love doesn’t depend on our achievements; what we have or have not done…our achievements flow from knowing the depth of God’s love for us and from wanting to thank him.
This is true humility. This is true freedom.
The Lord is saying: instead of letting our achievements go to our heads, Jesus wants to teach us how to make them flow from our hearts.
Not hearts that are self-satisfied but hearts that are dutiful out of a deep humility before God…
…hearts that are dutiful out of a deep gratitude before God’s promised love.
The Letter to the Hebrews gives us the Scriptural Meaning of Faith
Chapter 11 says: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
The phrase “things hoped for” in Heb. 11:1 is not about our personal desires – it is about the eternal promises of God. Faith is the assurance of the eternal promises of God.
Faith is constantly having the goal of Eternal Life in mind and living accordingly.
The Just person who lives by Faith will live forever.
We don’t have to be strong enough on our own. In every overwhelming event of life, we can say with St. Paul : “ I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”. Philippians 4:13
This is the heart of a servant who fully knows the depths of God’s love for him.