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Sunday, October 2, 2016

God Reminds Us to Be Patient

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 2, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

Fr. John Paul Shea 
As we reflect on the readings for this 27th Sunday in Ordinary time we are once again given the opportunity to meditate on the importance of faith.

In today’s first reading we hear from the prophet Habakkuk. The particular concern for Habakkuk in this reading was the rise of Babylon. Babylon had emerged at that time as a great regional power and was threatening Judah, and the prophet doesn’t get why God isn’t doing anything.

Habakkuk cries out to God saying, “How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene… Destruction and violence are before me.”

If we listen to these lines, it sounds similar to what many of us can relate to in our time today. We watch the nightly news and our stomachs become sick. We hear constantly of such things as terrorism, murder, killing in our streets, and financial problems… All these sorts of things can weigh heavily on our souls. And, like Habakkuk, we find ourselves saying, “How long O’ Lord?” How long will these things go on? 

However, we are reminded from today’s reading that God’s plan takes time for its fulfillment and that we therefore need to have faith as we await God’s plan and His will to unfold. 

As the prophet Habakkuk cries out to the Lord in today’s first reading, God reminds him to be patient. God says to Habakkuk that His plan still has its time, and will not disappoint; it will surely come, it will not be late.

My brothers and sisters, today’s readings call us to reflect on the importance of faith. Faith is an act of trusting in God. To have faith means that we are open to what God will do in His time and His way for the greater good of our lives and the world around us. To have faith means that we realize that we are not in control of our lives and what takes place around us and that we therefore need to rely on God.

In today’s Gospel we hear the disciples ask Our Lord to increase their faith. Our Lord responds by reminding the disciples of the

power of faith. He says, “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.”

Yet, our Lord does not stop there. Our Lord goes on to teach His disciples and us that we need to have an attitude of humility if we want to live in faith. Our Lord speaks about a servant and his master. Our Lord says, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’?” 

Our Lord says, “So should it be with [us].” Our Lord says, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

My brothers and sisters, the real issue in the scene of today’s Gospel is not that the

disciples need more faith. The real issue is that they need to exercise the faith they have by recognizing that faith is a gift from God!

Therefore, if we too, want to grow in our faith then we too must have the attitude of a servant. If we want to grow in our faith than we must humble ourselves before God acknowledging that He alone is our master and that we are nothing without Him! 

When we do things on our own without God then we become faithless, proud, and disobedient. This is how it has been since the fall of mankind, and it is what we see around us today as we wait for our Lord Jesus to come again in glory. 

Our society today follows not the revelation of truths given to us by Our Lord. Our society today instead teaches us the lie that we are the master of our lives and that there are no external truths.

Even many Catholics today are conforming their hearts not to the revelation of our faith but instead toward the ways of the world. Instead of acknowledging that we are Our Lord’s unprofitable servants, and instead of striving to do all we are obliged to do in light of the faith handed down to us, many in our Church today instead act as if we are the masters of our faith and that our faith should conform to our will. 

A few weeks ago, for example, one of the vice presidential candidates for the upcoming election who claims to be a devoted Catholic stated publically that he believes that our Church will change its views on same sex marriage. This sort of thinking does not come from divine faith. The Church can’t change its teachings on marriage and sexuality because marriage and sexuality was given to us by God according to His design for His plan of life.

My brothers and sisters, the bottom line is that our faith does not come from human origin. Faith is not about trying to please the culture or about seeking to get the Church to revolve its teachings around the human person. No, faith is when a person accepts God’s revelation and strives to live according to God’s revealed truths. If we want to be strong in our faith than we must strive to serve God by following His plan of life as His unprofitable servants, recognizing that everything we have and are is a gift from God! For, when we surrender our lives to God and His revealed truths, than no difficulties, hardships, or influences of the world will

break apart the rock of salvation that has been planted in our hearts through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

As we come to receive our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist this evening, let us set our hearts on the gift of faith. No matter what may be going on in our lives today, no matter the difficulties in our world and society, no matter who becomes president in the upcoming election, God is in control, and His grace will prevail! For, the world with its sin and hardships will pass away, but our faith in our Lord Jesus and His Truth will live forever. Amen!

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