Reflection for Sunday, October 7, 2001: 27th week in Ordinary Time.
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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
As you are reading this, you might wonder if it had been written by a newspaper reporter standing at the scene of last-months devastation in New York City. Disasters of all kinds call forth a complaint from even the most faithful souls. We expect, in our simple sense of justice, that good faith; good actions will render God or life benevolent.||The opening verses of today's First Reading sound similar to complaints in the Psalms or from the prophet Jeremiah. The goodness of God is not to be taken as a reward; it is Who God is and we humans do not earn it or bargain for it. Habakkuk is looking upon the destruction of his country by an invasion of the Chaldaeans. He knows his nation has sinned, but where is God in all this? He is asking God, or crying out, "We don't deserve this; we are not that bad!"|God makes a reply which finishes the reading. Habakkuk is asked to write down a vision which is to be remembered. Faith involves waiting for the reply, the answers, and the rest of the story. If there is faith then there will be the way of God. The natural response to this for us is, "We have faith so why do we have to wait; why are You playing a waiting-game with us?" Waiting, watching, complaining, fuming are all parts of being a human believer. We want answers, reasons, and results!|Luke has Jesus speaking to His closest followers in today's Gospel. He is giving them a refresher course in the fine points of being a follower of His. As often in His instructing them, He is also revealing His interior and singleness of heart. The Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. They might be requesting this to make things easier, clearer and freer from their other natural inclinations.|Jesus replies that if they had the faith they desired coming out of their human selfishness, they could do the impossible. Jesus is giving them a faith which is based on their relationship with Him. This faith will not remove their human fears, questions and complaints; they will still have doubts and faith together.|The second part of Jesus' response is equally challenging and direct. To be an Apostle is to expect the life of a servant who does not require thanks or bonuses. Jesus is saying much about Himself here. He is faithful by doing what is in Him to do and He perseveres because He is a Servant, not because He is gratified by success or compliments.|The final line of the Gospel is one with which we must pray and find comfort. If taken incorrectly, it could justify a false sense of worthlessness and inferiority in us as followers of Jesus. "Unprofitable servants" are not unworthy or discardable. We are not made more than what we are by doing what we are. In our frailty, we want to appear more than we are in our eyes and the eyes of others. This is a normal part of our unconvertedness. Jesus is telling His Apostles to live their faith within their human struggles and refrain from getting false identities from success or adulation. There is a tremendous dignity in being a servant. The "Unprofitableness" is when we try to make profits for our little egos by being more than we are by simply being His servants.|For Jesus, faith leads to such a sense of who each of His apostles are that they will also believe in themselves enough to be faithful servants. When they experience their doubts, they will also flee their being profitable servants. They will check their approval ratings; they will expect applause and pats on their backs.|We do look upon the disasters, both in our country and around the world, which are caused by nature and fallen nature. We can complain with the words of Habakkuk about our having faith and being good. Faith is not an answer it is a relationship. As with most relationships, we wait for the mysteries of the other to be revealed. We watch and impatiently tap our spiritual feet and cry, "Why!" We are servants of the mysterious God Who reminds us, "The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live." We want answers, captures, and retaliations these days of wondering. As people of faith and servants of the Mystery, we remember the vision and the Person of God who is still servant of us all.|"The lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who are searching for his love." Lamentations 3:25
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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