October 6/7, 2007

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C
Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
Psalm 95 2
Tim. 1:6-8, 13-14
Lk. 17:5-10

Is Faith Complete or Must It Seek Understanding?

“Fides quaerens intellectum”

Faith seeks to understand the mind of God in every aspect of lived experiences. Thus, in an attempt to understand the mind of God about atrocities that were happening around him, the Prophet Habakkuk cried out: "O LORD, how long shall I cry for help and you will not listen? How long shall I cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Why do you make me see destruction, strife and contention [disagreements, disputes and conflicts – cf. Habakkuk 1: 2-3] while you remain far remote to the situation of your people? What do you want me to do?”

Judging from the situation of our world today:

1. Could Habakkuk’s cry reflect the cry of those in society who have, or continue to suffer or witness strife and we refuse to hear them?

2. Could Habakkuk’s cry reflect the cry of those in society who find themselves constantly in trouble with the law and are in need of our direction and we would not direct them but instead confine them into prison cells?

3. Could Habakkuk’s cry reflect the cry of those in society who suffer from chronic diseases or illnesses that never heal and we would not provide drugs that could cure them?

4. Could Habakkuk’s cry reflect the cry of those in society who suffer from loneliness, depression, addiction, violence or abuse of any kind in the home or wherever, and are in need our protection and we could care less?

5. Could Habakkuk’s cry reflect the cry of those in society whose marriage or relationship sits on rocky grounds and in need of intervention, and we would rather not support them but gossip about them instead?

6. Could Habakkuk’s cry reflect the cry of those in society who are divorced or separated and are forced to be single parents – needing acceptance but we would rather shun them by calling them names or looking down on them?

7. Could Habakkuk’s cry reflect the cry of fatherless children in society who need love and affection but we never give them any?

8. Could Habakkuk’s cry reflect the cry of those in society who can’t find or hold a job, those who desperately need a job to enable them provide food, clothing and shelter for their family and we would not assist them but rather tag them as “lazy bums?”

For those of you going through hard times in life trust me that my heart goes out to you and I support you in prayers, especially every time I celebrate the Eucharist with you.

The cry of the Prophet Habakkuk calls forth two levels of faith. First, for those who have no faith – like the atheist, God could not possibly exist to show love and care for the afflicted. For those of us who are impatient about anything and everything, God seems far remote and unworthy of praise or thanksgiving. For those whose faith is weak, they would ask, “If God exists, and if God is really alive, why are we surrounded with intractable evils – defeats – chronic problems – failures, hardships and so forth in our lives?” The less fortunate may also ask, “Does God know what he is?”

Secondly, for those who understand faith, even in its simplistic form as a mustard seed, gather the desire to complete God’s Will and Intention. So how does the Prophet Habakkuk expect us to live our faith? The Prophet Habakkuk is inviting us to live our faith in civility!

Contemplating on living our faith in civility, Pope St. Gregory the Great urges us to note that, “We are set apart to guard God’s vineyard – God’s creation; that we do not get involved in irrelevant pursuits to the neglect of performance of our ministry as stewards of God’s creation” [cf. Divine Office – Breviary, Vol. IV, 369]. In short, Pope St. Gregory the Great cautions that we “Never lack foresight or hesitate to say openly what is right for fear of losing favour of others.” He concludes that, “Whenever we refuse to stand against injustice or evil intentions, we lose to be the voice of faith to people around us” [cf. Divine Office – Breviary, Vol. IV, 343].

Bishop Cyril of Alexandria contends that, “When we have been found worthy of Christ’s peace, we can easily save souls and guide our mind to carry out exactingly the demands of virtue – the demands of stewardship” [cf. Divine Office – Breviary, Vol. IV, 374]. We find Habakkuk in these teachings.

The desperate cry of the Prophet Habakkuk echoes sentiments in our own particular situations, for we sometimes go through painful times in our lives. Is this reason why the Prophet Habakkuk cried out as he did? But why did he cry so much about the plight of the weak and needy in his society? Just as some of us cannot stand social ills and injustices, the Prophet Habakkuk could no longer sit on the fence to watch the plight of the weak or tolerate any longer the disrespect and disregard for the vulnerable in his society.

Consequently, he cried out to God to eliminate the disgrace of such people, in order that all may give thanks to God. Whatever your life situation is now; wherever your life has taken you to, I implore you never to give up or lose hope in God!

As a good steward, the Prophet Habakkuk sought answers for the plight of his people. God responded to his quest, saying, “…the righteous live by their faith” [cf. Habakkuk 2:4]. We also “Walk by faith, and not by sight: no gracious words we hear, of him who spoke as none e’re spoke, but we believe him near” [CBW III 495]. The Prophet Habakkuk suggests that God is near to us – always!

If we do believe God is with us all the time, then let us understand our faith and live it out in such manner that we can confidently go counter-culture to all means that promote violence, hostility, oppression, war and negligence for the well-being and safety of all peoples living on Mother Earth.

May our participation at this Eucharist become our thanksgiving for all that God means to us as we celebrate “Thanksgiving” this week. May our participation at this Eucharist become our appreciation for all the gifts and talents God has given to each one of us, and may God’s wisdom become our wisdom in order that we may remain good and vigilant stewards of God’s creation!

I wish you all a wonderful, joy-filled and peace-filled “Thanksgiving Week!”

Father John-Baptist Okai
Priest Moderator
St. Cecilia Parish, Regina SK Canada

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