Hb 1:2-3,2:2-4; 2 Tim 1:6-9,13-14; Luke 17:5-10
In the readings of today we find prophet Habakkuk, Timothy and the Apostles facing the problem that put to severe test their faith threatened to crumble.
Situation in Jerusalem was very bad at the time of Prophet Habakkuk. When the powerful Assyrian empire that had rushed the Jewish nation crashed, it brought relief forthe chosen people. But it was replaced by one, worse than the previous, the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian army ravaged the country of Judah, destroying town after town.
During today's First Reading, we heard prophet Habakkuk calling out to the Lord. Around 626 B.C., Habakkuk called out to the Lord because of the violence that surrounded him. Destruction, violence, strife, contention, these had become the norm of the day. Habakkuk was frustrated because the Lord was not taking control of the situation. For the Prophet, who loved his country, it was a trial beyond his understanding. The oppression in Jerusalem was a severe test of his faith. God promised to Abraham decedents like the numerous stars of heaven, and as the gains of sand in the desert. He promised to David an everlasting Kingdom. But the ravaging that was taking place in Jerusalem made them feel that these promises would never be fulfilled. The faith of the Prophet and the pious people was shaken. They cried to God and reminded Him of his promises. Then God assured him in a vision to hold on to his faith and all the promises would be fulfilled. “It comes slowly; wait, for it will come, without fail.”
In the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, Paul refers to the problems faced by Timothy as a Bishop. Paul encourages him by reminding that he was entrusted with two things: the gift of faith and the responsibility to preach the Gospel.
According to the Roman custom and law, a person going on a long journey or about to die would entrust money and valuables to a trusted friend, who would give them back on his return. If he did not return, the wealth would be returned to his heir. This trust was considered so sacred that no one dared to break it.
So Paul reminds Timothy that faith and the responsibility to preach the Gospel are two valuables that Jesus has entrusted him with. He is also assured from his personal experience that Christ would never fail.
Today’s Gospel describes the problems faced by the Apostles. When Jesus started referring to his being handed over into the hands of His enemies, and to his suffering and death on the cross the Apostles were discouraged. They turned to Jesus with a prayer, “Lord increases our faith.”
Jesus hastened to reassure them: their faith in Jesus, however weak, could work wonders. St. Luke says,
“Were your faith the size of the mustard seed
You could say to this mulberry tree:
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea”
And it would obey you.”
Like Prophet Habakkuk, Timothy and the Apostles, we too have to stand some tests in our life. We experience dark moments when everything goes wrong. We experience anguish and anxiety that all the promises seem to be shattered, and we feel being alienated and estranged. But at these moments God reassures us with His support.
When the faith of Prophet Habakkuk was shaken God reassured him through a vision. When the faith of Timothy was shaken God reassured him through the medium of St Paul. When the faith of the Apostles was shaken Jesus reassured them with the words that with their faith they would be able to move even mountains. Peter had already experienced it. The Apostles saw Jesus walking over the water. Then Peter cried out “Lord Let me come to you.” Jesus said, “Come” and peter started walking on the water. But when doubt over took him he began to sink.
One night, Jim had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with Jesus. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonging to Jesus, and the other to him. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. It happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This bothered him, and he questioned Jesus about it. "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me." Jesus replied, "My precious, precious child. I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
Whenever doubt and troubles overtake us. Jesus is at our side reassuring us. But He wants that our faith is increased by serving others, not by being served. Faith is increased when we manifest our love towards others, our family, friends and strangers.