Reflections on the Readings
October 6, 2013 - 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C
We'll Work Until Jesus Comes
"So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.' "
The Steady Vision of Faith
Living in the fast lane has become a way of life. Almost no one is immune to the sweeping pace of life in vogue these days. We enroll our kids in endless activities. Mom or a Nanny navigates the family car to every where the kids go. But the family car is not just a means of transportation anymore, its the place where the kids eat and do their homework as well; the SUV is the new family dinner table where we talk and eat, as we go, go, go. But in life we need more than hectic schedules and endless appointments. We need a vision, a way to see ourselves and each other, and how we might become fully aware of the gift that life is - especially the life of Christ in us.
When we finally plop ourselves down after an evening of ballet lessons, soccer games, and basketball practices, we turn on the 10 o'clock news. And then we hear what today's prescient first reading from the 7th century BC describes as violence, destruction, misery, and strife. As the newscast drones on, we offer up a prayer of frustration and may even pray something like we read today, "How long Lord? I cry out for help but it doesn't seem like your listening. There's violence and heartache, don't you care?"
For these times we need the 'steady as she goes' type of faith. Deep inside where we think more freely about a world touched by eternity, we yearn for something timeless; for the things that are good, and true, and beautiful; for a faith that is filled with the promise of redemption in Him who makes all things new. That kind of faith inspires a clear vision of who we are and what our mission is in life. Tell me who doesn't need to know who they are, and why they are here.
As the prophet Habakkuk says, "The just one shall live by faith." In that way of life there is peace in the midst of clamorous and days of stress. As we renew ourselves in this living faith we find a new energy and a new desire to make a difference. First and foremost all of us can make it a priority to know what Christians believe and what is the hope of the calling God has on our lives and our world. In the Catechism it is clearly written down. All that the Church embraces is written down so that no one need to be shallow concerning what it is that the faith handed down through the ages proposes. In these tumultuous times it is the steady vision of faith that will give all of us the clarity we need to persevere. Because in the end, the prize of faith goes to those who keep believing, who remain firm in their integrity, and press on to see the vision of faith fulfilled.
Fanning the Faith into a Fiery Flame
Along the way our faith needs encouragement. To remember that God gives us not the spirit of fear and cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and self-control. It is imperative that we guard this rich faith and love given to us. These are gifts our Father gives us with ardent love. In our hearts these holy gifts maintain their ardor by the fire of the Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit, first descending upon the Church in holy and fiery tongues of fire, that we can daily call upon to fan into flame the gift of God's life given to us in baptism.
We are the unashamed emissaries of the testimony of the Lord entrusted to us to share with our family and our friends. There is nothing that is more important than the salvation we all need; to know the love of God in the forgiveness of our sins and in the sanctification of our lives. In this second reading, the Apostle Paul speaks of the fervency of faith - a faith that's alive, vibrant, and unafraid. Within the Christian understanding, it is not possible to speak of a cold, calloused, and cautious faith. To be alive in Christ is to have a holy faith within the hearth of our being that is burning and waiting to become a flame fanned into a fervency that radiates the very life of Christ in all that we say and do. As witnesses of Jesus Christ we can only give what we possess. May our prayers be more intentional in asking for the fire of the Holy Spirit so that our faith may be a genuine light of Christ through us.
Servants of the Faith
What we are really praying for is to be faithful servants of the life given to us in Christ. That is the heart of the disciples request to our Lord. "Increase our faith," they asked. And they were reminded of how indefinably powerful is faith the size of a mustard seed. We can all start there. For if the life wrapped up in a mustard seed can explode into a tree able to provide shade to the birds of the air, then what might we do in the name of Jesus with faith the size of a mustard seed? The size of a mustard seed is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
Think about it. That much faith is enough to move mountains as it were. But it's not mountains that Jesus asks us to move. He asks us to be his servants in touching and moving hearts and lives toward Him - to show the lost through our words and our deeds the sacred wounds. And to this end we'll work till Jesus comes. In the end this is all that will really matter - fulfilling our holy obligation as sinners telling other sinners where we found forgiveness. Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com