27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C
By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus Ameh
Readings: Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4; Psalm 95; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10
Theme: “O Lord, how long?”
In today’s Mass, all the three readings speak to us about faith. The First reading tells us that in the midst of gloom, only the just shall survive. How? By means of their faith. Saint Paul reminds us in the Second reading that God gave us a spirit of faith, not of fear (which is a direct killer of faith). And in the Gospel, while the apostles of Jesus prayed for a strengthening of their faith, Jesus tells us that with a little faith, we can do many great things.
In the First Reading, Habakkuk laments about the travails of the Jews who were at this time, exiled in Babylon. Habakkuk’s prayer was for a time when they will be restored to their land, a time when they will see Jerusalem and the Temple again, a time when they will have peace and freedom. He cried to God that their sufferings have lasted too long and there seem to be no end in sight. But through the prophet Jeremiah (29:10), God had decreed that Judah shall be in Babylon for seventy years; only after those seventy years have elapsed will respite come. Habakkuk’s experiences in exile challenged his faith so much that he asked: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? (Hab 1:2). But God answered him saying: “The vision still awaits its time, it will not fail. Even if it seems slow, wait for it, it will surely come (Hab 2:3). What is this vision that awaits its time and will not fail? It is what God promised by prophet Jeremiah (29:11): “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to give you a future and a hope.” In other words, the vision is that when the time of suffering in Babylon is over, God shall grant them peace, prosperity and a secured future.
If we look at our own lives, we will see that virtually all of us go through a Babylon experience in one way or the other.
- Some people are in the Babylon of childlessness after several years of marriage
- Some are in the Babylon of prolonged ill health
- Some are in the Babylon of failing business(es)
- Some are in the Babylon of unemployment, even after several years of graduating with an excellent result
- Some are in the Babylon of a failing marriage
- Some are in the Babylon of seeing their children not progressing in life, despite all their efforts
- Some are in the Babylon of expecting a life partner
- Some are in the Babylon of addictions they would rather break away from
- Some are in the Babylon of habitual sins which constantly leaves them in a state of guilt, etc.
All such ‘Babylonian experiences’ of our lives are capable of threatening our faith in God; they can make us cry the same cry of Habakkuk: “How long, O Lord, shall I cry for help and you will not hear? But God’s word to us today is not to fear or be intimidated by them, for God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity (2 Tim 1:7). We should rather fan into flame our faith in God because he has promised us a future of prosperity and security (Jer 29:11) and God does not lie (Num 23:19). When our faith is threatened by our ‘Babylonian experiences’, let us do as the disciples of Jesus did in our gospel reading of today, asking Jesus for an increase, a strengthening of our faith.
Child of God, I do not know what “Babylon” your life has been in, nor for how long you have had to deal with it, but hear the word of the Lord: “the vision (of deliverance) may seem slow, but it will surely come.” Do not give up on God, because God has not given up on you, neither will he ever give up on you. Continue to have faith in God. And concerning all the “Babylons” in your life that are threatening your faith, I have good news for you. God says: “You will leave Babylon with joy; you will be led out of the city in peace” (Isa 55:12). I pray for you, that God may strengthen your faith during your time of ‘Babylonian experience(s)’, and at his own time, may he bring you out of your “Babylon” with joy to the land of peace, prosperity and security. Amen