01 October 2016

FAITH IS A GIFT AND A TASK… NOT MAGIC!

XXVII SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-42; timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; luke 17:5-10

a family i know is going through difficult times. some members of the family have major illnesses; some face professional/career uncertainty… it is rather overwhelming.
and the «good christians» around them have been questioning the strength of their faith: «if their faith were stronger, they wouldn’t have all these troubles»!! 

what is faith? a mantra to recite or a magic wand to wave… and whoosh… problems solved?! i wish it were, but i think not!

this sunday’s readings help us to understand what faith is.
habakkuk (first reading), writing in a time of turmoil, dares to question GOD about his apparent silence. GOD persuades habakkuk to wait patiently for deliverance for «it will surely come». 
st paul reminds timothy (second reading) that GOD has gifted us «a spirit of… power and love and self-control» and invites him to bear hardships «with the strength that comes from GOD.»
jesus instructs his disciples that it is the quality* (and not quantity) of their faith that matters. he urges them to do their duty, that is, to serve GOD unconditionally without counting the cost. 

faith, then, is a gift of the spirit - that moves us to wait patiently and humbly - while steadfastly doing our tasks - in the knowledge and hope that GOD’s will and word will be fulfilled. 
the catechism of the catholic church affirms: «to obey in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard… abraham is the model of such obedience… the virgin mary is its most perfect embodiment» (144). didn’t they have problems and difficulties?! through all their ordeals, their faith never wavered. 

what kind of faith do i have? 
may the LORD increase my faith: steadfast fidelity through (and despite) difficulties.

* the size of faith doesn’t matter because GOD is the one doing the moving!  
if my faith moved the mountain, then the bigger the mountain the more faith i would need to move it; the bigger the obstacle the more strength i’d need to climb it; the more serious the illness a faith even greater would be required to overcome it… such thinking may make sense, but that’s not how faith works. GOD does the work through faith (cf. vince gerhardy, «faith the size of a mustard seed»).