Homily for 27th Sunday in Ordinary time year C 2013
I. ‘Jesus has done it again!’. I’m referring to the episode in our gospel today wherein Jesus has shown one of the remarkable ways on how he dealt with some requests or plea from his audience. In the gospel, we heard of his disciples asking him ‘to increase their faith’. Typical of him, he didn’t just give them what they are asking for, not because He can’t, but because their request hid a more pressing and important need to be attended to. Yes, they have recognized that their faith is a gift from God and He alone can ‘increase’ it, so they believed. Otherwise they wouldn’t have raised that ‘appeal’ to Jesus. However, Jesus could discern the real need of the disciples through the ‘appeal’ they made. Thus, when he was asked to ‘increase their faith’ he answered to them with sayings that brings out this message: Faith is not about quantity (i.e. how much or how little of it) but about quality (i.e. even if it is only a size of a mustard seed, it can motivate to do great things). It is not about how much faith we have, or how little. Rather it is about we keep our faith alive in our lives and in our hearts.
II. But first, we need to remember always that faith is a gift. We don’t earn it. God gives us this generously, because He loves to share with us his life and his love, and only through faith we can come to know, and experience, and enjoy this wonderful sharing of divine life with us.
III. So how can we keep the faith alive in our lives and in our hearts?
Our First Reading today gives us one way: Prayer- communication with God and looking for God and the actions of God’ in our real human experiences. This is one message of the Prophet Habbakuk for us as we heard in the First Reading today. We need to pray. We need to keep the line of communication open between us and God so that we could see him acting through our human experiences, even that experience of ‘oppression, injustice, frustration, violence’, etc. that Prophet Habbakuk noted. And we need to pray constantly and to keep in touch with God about how we are going and where we are heading to. Furthermore, we need to remind ourselves though that God always answers our prayers. It is only that some answers were not the answer we are expecting. But let us be assured of this. He loves us so much, he cares for us, and he knows what’s best for us. Let us just be patient and continue to live with hope and with faith.
Our Second reading today gives us another way to keep our faith alive- that is to ‘fan into a flame the gift that God gave’ us as St Paul would say. St Paul understood that the gift of God to us which includes faith is like an ember, and to keep it burning we need to fan it and make it enflamed by the Spirit of God. St Paul here outlined some ways to fan into a flame the gift of God: ‘love, self-control, courage to witness the faith and not be ashamed of standing up for Christ, bear hardships for the sake of the gospel, and rely on the power of God. Maybe we can learn from the examples of the two neighbours of mine in the Philippines. These two married women worked as volunteer Catechists in our state school. They took their commitment seriously by sacrificing a lot of themselves, of their time to help the children learn about the faith. Every Sunday, they attend Mass even if they had to walk for two hours or more to get to our parish Church. I just admired the commitment of these two ladies, because I often passed them by walking to and from the Church, while I am on a public transport. I assumed they just didn’t have money to pay for the fare or they just reserved their money for more important and urgent need, so everytime I passed them by, I just asked the driver to stop and gave them a bit of money enough for them to get a public transport. It just amazed me how much faith meant for them that they kept up witnessing for it no matter what or no matter how long will it take them to get to the Church. These are just few of the many people of faith around us from whom we can learn from and imitate the way they fan into flame the gifts that God has given us.
Our Gospel today also gives us another way to keep the gift of faith alive in us- that is to trust that no matter how small it is, it can do wonderful things, if empowered by God’s grace, we use it in the right, in the proper and in the informed way. And we can make it real in our lives, by fulfilling our duties as servants of God and of the gospel ‘faithfully and responsibly.’ For instance, we have the duty to ‘be our brothers/sisters’ keepers, so we do this by sharing our resources to them. Last year in my previous parish, we encouraged parishioners to give stuff for some poor people in the Philippines. We received many things including beautiful dinner sets that were rarely used or not even used at all by the owners. We gave them to some 12 poor families in my neighbouring village in the Philippines. And they were so happy because that’s the first time they have dinner sets that they could use for special occasions, like weddings or birthday, etc. Faith is in a way like that. It is beautiful but we can only see the real beauty of it when we share it, when we express it in our lives, when we really live it out in our lives. Small it may be for us, but it means a lot, and it can do great and wonderful things. IV. So as we continue our celebration of the mass today, let us thank God for the gift of faith. Let us also pray for God’s grace to help us focus on the quality of our faith rather than on the quantity. Then let us resolve to express our faith in our lives, in our homes, in our workplaces, in the people we meet, and in any opportunities that may come our way. Amen.