Sunday, 6 October 2019 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we listened to the words of God speaking to us into our hearts and minds, reminding us all that we must have that sincere and genuine faith in God, or else we will not be able to live our lives as how God wants us to live them. We must trust in the Lord in all things and put our lives before Him, dedicating ourselves to His cause and obeying His will at all times.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Habakkuk, we heard firstly of the supposed anger and distress of the people as voiced in conversation to God, to show how the people thought that God had not listened to their prayers and left them to endure suffering and bitterness in life. And this was made in the context of the prophet Habakkuk being active in his ministry during the early years of Babylonian Empire, which in a few decades would end up destroying Jerusalem and Judah, and brought the people into exile for many years.

At that time, the people of God were beset by many problems and were faced with many enemies, and they and their kingdom were already waning in power, far from the once glorious days of King David and King Solomon. The prophet Habakkuk as recorded throughout his book in fact spoke of the rise of the Babylonians, as a premonition for the ending days of the kingdom of Judah and the coming of the time of humiliation for God’s people, the destruction of their Temple and their enslavement once again in exile.

But this is where then God through the prophet Habakkuk wanted His people to know that it does not mean that if things did not go according to the plans of the people then it means that God does not care about His people or that He has forgotten about them. On the contrary, it means that everything is within God’s plan and will, and not how we want it to be. This is what God presented to us clearly today in that first reading passage, that if we have not received providence we need or grace we hope for, then we ought to be patient and remember that everything occurs in God’s time, not ours.

Impatience is caused by the desire in us that goes on unchecked and the temptation for us to get the right answers and things we want, which if we embrace then can lead to further impatience, unhappiness and sufferings. And why is this so? That is because we are never going to be satisfied by those things alone. They are mere distractions from the true happiness and treasure which we should see in our life, and which can be found in God alone.

It was the unbridled and uncontrolled desires of the people which led them to disobey God and to grumble against Him as mentioned in our Psalm today, where we heard that at the last part of the verses, the incident of Massah and Meribah was mentioned. At that time, the people of Israel were on their way from Egypt to the land promised by God to them. But as they continued to progress through the journey, they grumbled more and more, refusing to listen to God and even complaining that God was leading them to their deaths.

The people of Israel were impatient and they were also overcome by their own human desires, the greed and wants inside them. As a result, they sought for worldly satisfaction, wanting a good lifestyle that they could not wait to have. And instead of trusting God, they chose to turn to pagan gods and idols, and followed the words and desires of men rather than to listen to God and to the words that His servant Moses had spoken before them.

Just as their descendants at the era of the prophet Habakkuk would do, the people of God trusted more in their own human power, intelligence and strength rather than trusting in God as they should have. They wanted things to go their way and became angry and disillusioned when they could not get what they wanted. Yet in this, we can clearly see how they were imposing themselves on God and demanding things that they did not deserve in the first place.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus put it bluntly before His disciples and the people whom He taught, that truly each and every one of us, no matter how powerful or great we are, ultimately we are merely the servants of God, His creatures and people, who are at His mercy at all times. But God’s love for us is so great that indeed, He wants to take care of us and provide for us in our respective lives. Nonetheless, God does this in the way He wills it and at the time of His own choosing.

And it is a reminder for us to avoid making excessive expectations in life, thinking that things will go our way or the way we wanted it to be. If we expect too much, in the end we will be left with nothing but disappointments, regrets and anger. This is exactly what the devil wants to lead us into, by tempting us with all those temptations and desires so that we will fall deeper and deeper into our wicked ways and disobey God through sin.

Yet it is also how our world today operates, in a society often obsessed with expectations, standards and ideals. We are often preoccupied so much on what we want that we forget what life truly is all about. Our life in truth is not about trying to accumulate as much wealth, fame or other good things in life, and neither it is a way for us to indulge ourselves in the many tempting things surrounding us, the temptations of money, fame, glory and other sorts of worldly pleasures.

Instead, our life should be enriched in faith and it should be holy just as Our Lord is holy. We should make best use of our life’s existence to bear witness to the truth of God by our every actions and deeds, by our words and dedication even in small and little things in our lives. We should grow lesser in our pride and in ego, in our ambition and desires and instead, we ought to grow stronger and firmer in our humility and in our love for God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to reflect on our lives and discern how we should live our lives from now on. We are called to turn ourselves from trusting only in our own human strengths and capabilities into trust in God with all of our hearts and with all of our strength. We have to realise that ultimately, there is no way that we can survive just with our own capabilities without God.

And we also have to understand that in the end, God’s will shall be done and not ours. God is the beginning and the end for everything that we are, and everything that we are belong to God and God alone. Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to live our lives from now on with greater humility and with greater commitment, turning towards Him with all of our hearts and minds? Are we able to follow Him and trust Him wholeheartedly, now and always?

May the Lord continue to guide us all in this journey, and may He strengthen us in our resolve to live a good and virtuous life from now on as faithful Christians, as those whom God considers to be His own beloved children and as those whom He will bless forever with eternal glory and blissful life in perfect grace and love. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 6 October 2019 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 17 : 5-10

At that time, the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree, ‘Be uprooted, and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it will obey you.”

“Who among you would say to your servant, coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Go ahead and have your dinner?’ No, you tell him, ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron, and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterward.’”

“Do you thank this servant for doing what you told him to do? I do not think so. And therefore, when you have done all that you have been told to do, you should say, ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Sunday, 6 October 2019 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Timothy 1 : 6-8, 13-14

For this reason, I invite you to fan into a flame, the gift of God you received, through the laying on of my hands. For God did not confer on us a spirit of fearfulness, but of strength, love and good judgment. Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in labouring for the Gospel, with the strength of God.

Follow the pattern of the sound doctrine which you have heard from me, concerning faith, and love in Christ Jesus. Keep this precious deposit, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Who lives within us.

Sunday, 6 October 2019 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks, with music and songs of praise.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

Sunday, 6 October 2019 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Habakkuk 1 : 2-3 and Habakkuk 2 : 2-4

YHVH, how long will I cry for help while You pay no attention to me? I denounce the oppression and You do not save. Why do You make me see injustice? Are You pleased to look on tyranny? All I see is outrage, violence and quarrels.

Then YHVH answered me and said, “Write down the vision, inscribe it on tablets so it can be easily read, since this is a vision for an appointed time; it will not fail but will be fulfilled in due time. If it delays, wait for it, for it will come, and will not be deterred. Look : I do not look with favour on the one who gives way; the upright, on the other hand, will live by his faithfulness.”