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    St. Mary's Parish
    211 Avenue O South
    Saskatoon, SK
    S7M 2R6

    Phone: 306 244 2983
    Fax: 306 242 6461

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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Remain Steadfast in Faithfulness

By Fr. James M. Donohue, C.R.

Writing before the Babylonian invasion of Judah (597-586 B.C.), the prophet Habakkuk (First Reading) had major problems with the way God was running things. He was especially upset by God’s untimely absence when God was most needed. The ravaging Babylonians had been running roughshod over Judea, God’s chosen nation, and yet God seemed to be doing little to stop the carnage. So the prophet Habakkuk decided to let God know just how he felt, and to ask God to carry out God’s duty. The vision of Habakkuk is one of terror and destruction. The people were already close to despair. The Prophet expresses sentiments which, at times, have been not unlike our own: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble?There are no words of comfort in this passage. Instead the prophet is told to write down the vision to be preserved for future generations. Hopefully the vision will remind them of the suffering endured by their ancestors. In this passage, the visionary prophet maintains that the righteous one, i.e., the just one, will remain steadfast in faithfulness, even in the midst of violence and destruction and despair, and this faithfulness, along with an abiding trust in a personal God, may be his or her sole assurance of survival and life.

In the Gospel, it is the disciples who cry out for an increase in faith. What circumstances in the gospel have preceded their cry for an increase in faith? Jesus has spoken about the inevitability of sin and how his followers should deal with any sinner. He tells them that “if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I repent’, you must forgive him.” No wonder the disciples cry out for an increase of faith! They find this message too difficult and consequently ask for an increase in faith. Jesus’ response to them is striking in that he suggests that in carrying out forgiveness, they are carrying out no more than should be expected of someone who has accepted a role of service to the community. He also suggests that they should not seek special gratitude as though they performed something extraordinary because they have merely carried out their duty as “unworthy servants” (Eugene LaVerdiere, Luke, New Testament Message Series 5 [Wilmington: DE: Michael Glazier, 1980]:213).

In his pastoral letter (Second Reading), Paul encourages Timothy to bear any hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. Paul reminds Timothy that God has given him a spirit of power and love and self-control. In the context of our other readings today, we could imagine that this strength and power will enable us to endure the difficulties of life. Although these difficulties are real, we can accept them in the larger context of God’s love for us and God’s constant presence in Christ through the Spirit.



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