Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
If only you had faith!
The Word This Week
Faithfulness, faith and trust. These most invisible and difficult things are what God asks of us just as we, in our own way, ask them of those who love us. Trust me, we say, all will be well. And if someone does trust us, the reward is simply that trust was well-placed. We have done our duty. Sometimes when we talk about faith we put the emphasis on believe and accept. Todays readings (especially the passage from Habakkuk) invite us to think in terms of trust. The request of the Apostles is interesting: Increase our faith could also mean Make it easier for us, or Prove that you are who you say you are. Jesus replies that he cant do that you cant make someone trust you. It has to be a gift, freely given.
Notes for Readers
This reading is clearly in two parts Habakkuks complaint and Gods reply. What is very important about this reading is that the prophets question is one of the most common and contemporary questions people raise about the very existence of God: it could be paraphrased as Lord, why do bad things happen in our world? And why dont you do anything? Look carefully at Habakkuks words, and see how he puts this question: make sure that the congregation can have a sense that such a relevant question is being asked. Make sure that there is a substantial pause after all is contention and discord flourishes to let people know that Habakkuk is now waiting for a reply. The second part, Gods answer, is much harder: it is an answer that is not an answer. It could be paraphrased simply as Be patient. Trust me. This will be brought out most in the words if it comes slowly, wait, for come it will without fail. There is also an important point in the last two lines, where the word faithfulness appears
We move on to Pauls second letter to Timothy, the young man he ordained and set in charge of a church community. The advice he gives today fits well with the ideas in the other readings, since Paul is recommending faithfulness, patience and perseverance to the young bishop. He starts off by reminding Timothy of his ordination ( when I laid my hands on you.) and the gift that God gave him at that time. Remembering this, Timothy is to bear the hardships relying on the power of God. Even for those not ordained, this is good advice. Make sure your congregation hear it. Faith comes in in the last paragraph. There is also a rather lovely image that is dropped in: You have been trusted to look after something precious Think for a while about what this means for you and the congregation to whom you proclaim these words!