27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year "C") October 2, 2010 - LIVING BY FAITH IN GOD [Texts: Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4; [Psalm 95]; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13 -14; Luke 17:5-10]
Little is known about the prophet Habakkuk except what we may deduce from his oracles. His reference to the Chaldeans (1:6) makes it likely that he was active in the last quarter of the seventh century B.C.
The Qumran community, which authored or collected the Dead Sea Scrolls, produced a commentary on Habakkuk, applying the prophet's message to their own situation.
Donatello (c.1386-1466): Habakkuk (Lo Zuccone), Museum of the Cathedral's Artistic Collection
Paul made use of part of a verse from Habakkuk (“the righteous live by their faith” [2:4a]) in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11. These texts, in turn, were important to Martin Luther's church reformation project, highlighting— as they do—“justification by faith”.
A short work of 56 verses, the message of Habakkuk differs from many prophetic works in that the oracles present a systematically developed argument. It begins with a lament over the rampant injustices of Judean society. God replies to the prophet's reproof by announcing that the Chaldeans will be His agents to rectify injustice.
Astonished by this news, Habakkuk boldly objects that God's solution is worse than the original problem! God answers this “complaint” by promising a vision, which the prophet is to wait for in confidence:
“There is still a vision...; it speaks of the end and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay”.
The basic principle underlying the vision is that, by contrast with people who are arrogant, those who are righteous base their lives on their steadfast faith.
Only in chapter 3 does God's promised vision come into focus. In this further revelation, Habakkuk depicts God as a divine warrior marching to the rescue of His people (3:3-15). Finally, Habakkuk confesses his willingness to wait with a trusting disposition for God to overcome the problem of injustice which troubled him personally for a long time.
Jesus, too, spoke of living by faith in God. Luke's version of His saying on having “faith the size of a mustard seed” appears, with variations, also in Matthew 17:20 and 21:21.
In one Matthean version, faith is able to cast a mountain into the sea. The formulation found in Luke, however, speaks of the tiniest measure of faith telling “this mulberry tree: ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you”.
Jesus made this pronouncement when the disciples had asked Him to “increase our faith!” They assumed that they had faith—whether faith is conceived as a dynamic process one can grow in, or as something not just a matter of their own strength but something Jesus can add to.
Jesus' reply is surprising, implying they did not have even that degree of faith one could compare with the tiny mustard seed. For if they did, they could order a sycamore (mulberry) tree to be “planted” in the sea (an odd idea, which indicates that the images may have become confused as Jesus' saying on faith was handed on). Even with the slightest bit of faith, Jesus' disciples should be able to live His teaching.
A parable about a slave serving without reward closes out this small gospel unit. Unfortunately, it seems to cast God in the unappealing image of slave driver. Even Christians well-schooled in the doctrine of justification by faith occasionally feel they deserve a reward for the goodness of their lives and deeds.
What the parable asserts, however, through Jesus' exhortation that, at the end of the day, disciples humbly say “we are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done”, is that God's blessings and favours are ultimately matters only of grace. They cannot be earned.
Paul always stressed the supernatural origin of his vocation and in today's epistle recalls his own role in Timothy's vocation “through the laying on of my hands”.
Through this commissioning God gave—and gives—the Church's ordained ministers not a “spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline”.
The conferral of the Spirit is all God's doing. Still, the individual gospel minister is not passive. Rather, he can do as Timothy was enjoined, “to rekindle the gift of God that is within you”. This, too, is from God, for it is effected “with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us”.
* * * * * *
RETRAITE ANNUELLE DES PRETRES DU DIOCESE
Les prêtres francophones de l’archidiocèse sont allés au sanctuaire NOTRE DAME DU CAP à Cap-de-la-Madeleine du 27 septembre au 1er octobre pour leur retraite annuelle.
Sœur Lorraine Caza, CND, de la Maison de Prière Notre Dame à Longueuil a donne les conférences, très appréciées.
Voici quelques photos prises pendant la retraite: