Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 6, 2019 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine,
 Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The apostles felt that their faith was small and asked Jesus: “Increase our faith” (Lk 17:5). Jesus replied that the quality rather than the quantity of faith needs revitalization: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Lk 17:6).

By faith, we can do incredible things, like the Dallas man in the news recently, who forgave and hugged the woman convicted of killing his brother, saying: “I, personally, want the best for you. […] And the best would be, give your life to Christ.”

Faith is the belief that nothing is impossible to God (cf. Lk 1:37), as the archangel Gabriel told Mary at the annunciation. Faith is total trust in God: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

Faith gives us the strength to face all trials and tribulations. Saint Paul says to Timothy: “Bear your share of hardships for the gospel with the strength that comes from God” (2 Tim 1:8). Today’s first reading conveys the experience of the silence and absence of God: “How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?” (Hab 1:2–3). God responds to this prayer saying: “Look over the nations and see! Be utterly amazed! For a work is being done in your days that you would not believe, were it told” (Hab 1:5). Faith tells us that God is not absent but acts profoundly in history, fulfilling his design, breaking through human contradictions. Those who face adversity with faith experience new life, the power of the resurrection: “The just one, because of his faith, shall live” (Hab 2:4).

Faith is the knowledge that the living God is among us (cf. Jos 3:10). Faith allows us to see the invisible and acknowledge God as the creator of all things: “For you have made all things, the heaven and the earth” (Entrance Antiphon).

Faith leads us to serve gratuitously. As today’s Gospel says: “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do” (Lk 17:10) how can our faith increase? Like the apostles, we need to ask Jesus to increase our faith. We need to pray. We need to respond to the invitation in today’s psalm: “Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides” (Ps 95:6). We need to welcome God’s Word into our hearts: “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts’” (Ps 65:7).

In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God” (2 Tm 1:6). Let us pray for the increase and renewal of our faith: O Lord, we do believe but help our unbelief (cf. Mk 9:24)!  Amen.