The first reading is taken from the the Prophecy of Habakkuk, 1:2-3, 2:2-4. This prophet wrote about 600 B.C. shortly before the Babylonian invasion of Judah and the capture of the city of Jerusalem. Political intrigue and idolatry were widespread in Judah and Jerusalem at the time. The prophet is arguing with God about this state of affairs—why should God allow these things to happen? God tells him, he has prepared a severe punishment for Judah and its wicked inhabitants but the just will be saved.
The second reading is from the second letter of Paul to Timothy, 1:6-8, 13-14. This second letter to Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, was written by St. Paul from his Roman prison where he was spending his second and last term. It was written about 66/67 A.D. and in it Paul is most anxious that Timothy should come to him in Rome. He does not forget to urge on his beloved convert the need to continue preaching and preserving the faith which he had learned from his father-in-Christ.
The Gospel is from St. Luke, 17:5-10. Although Christ was speaking to the Apostles, His words apply to all of us, each in his own station in life. Following the example of the Apostles, we must all pray for greater trust in God. Most of us are inclined to forget God and his providence when our earthly affairs are going well. How often do we thank Him when we are enjoying good health, and when our home-life and business are going smoothly? How many of us Catholics make a novena of thanksgiving for all the gifts we have received and are receiving daily from God’s providence. How many, rather, pat ourselves on the back for what we claim as our own successes? It is only when a storm arises in our lives that we think of Him. Remember that storm on the Lake of Gennesaret. The Apostles were rowing cheerfully across the lake. They were probably telling tall yarns about the size and the number of fish they had caught there in their day. They may have been striving against one another to show who was the strongest oarsman. They did not seem to notice that Jesus was sleeping soundly in the bow of the boat. They thought of Him only when the storm arose, and then when they realized that they were in danger they shouted to Him for help (Mk. 5 : 37). They didn’t realize that both the calm and the storm were under His province.
Too many of us also, forget God and fail to give Him the thanks and the credit for our well-being which we owe him. We rush to Him only when trouble strikes. In His infinite goodness He often answers such panic prayers. If, however, we had thought of Him every day and realized His place in our lives with how much more confidence would we then approach Him in our hour of special need? If our own personal lives were stronger how much more readily would we accept the adversities and the trials that He sends us or allows to befall us for our eternal good? We can all ask God today to “increase our faith.”
As regards our work for God’s kingdom and for the salvation of ourselves and of our neighbor we are, like the Apostles, servants of God, and we should be proud of our status. We should be glad, that is, that He allows us to cooperate with Him in the building of His heavenly kingdom. Are we really dutiful servants in this regard? Let us ask ourselves seriously today: What have I done up to now to help to make God known to my neighbor who is ignorant of God and never thinks of what will happen him after death? I may not be able to put in words very clearly what I know and believe about God and the future life, but I can speak to Him far more convincingly by my way of living, by my daily actions.
The sincere Christian can find many ways to help to make Christ known to his neighbor without going on the foreign missions. There are pagans and unbelievers, often such through no fault of their own, and there are many lax Christians all around us. We should, and we can, have an effective influence on them and on their eternal future, if we ourselves live our Christian lives as Christ expects us to do. A quiet word, a charitable gesture, a truly unselfish interest in a neighbor’s troubles, coming from a sincere layman can do more good than a series of sermons given by a renowned theologian in the parish church.
Look around you today. Think of your fellow-workers and those living in your own street. Many of them need help and need it badly. You can help them, God expects you to help them. It is His plan for getting you to help yourself to get to heaven. If you fail to cooperate with God by helping to bring His stray children back to Him, you may find that you will be a straying child on your day of reckoning. God forbid.
— Excerpted from The Sunday Readings Cycle C, Fr. Kevin O’ Sullivan, O.F.M.