27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C ON OCTOBER 6, 2019 (R. 1: Habakkuk 1: 2-3; 2: 2-4; Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-7, 8-9; R. 2: 2 Timothy 1: 6-8, 13-14; Gospel: Luke 17: 5-10)
REV FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
…AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS!
And Jesus replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17: 5). He also said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move” (Matthew 17: 20). Really? Que Bueno! If this were a television show, I bet you, Jesus would have added, “Please, don’t try this at home!”
Do you have faith? Have you ever uprooted any tree by word of mouth? Have you heard of the any of the saints or apostles or even Jesus himself uprooting a tree by word of mouth? Does it mean that they have no faith? Have you imagined how crazy it would be if we all start moving trees and mountains all around by our words? May be if I like a tree on your property, I would just command it at night to come over to my property, and when you wake up in the morning and realize what happened, you would command it back to your property.
This is not an invitation for us to force God to do what is unreasonable. This is not a call for us to obtain cheap miracles from God. The mulberry tree has a very deep and extensive root system that is almost impossible to completely uproot and replant. The message from Jesus here is that with faith, we can achieve what might seem impossible in the eyes of human beings. With faith, we can uproot the deep-rooted system of injustice and violence in our society. With faith we can overcome every evil.
Jesus used this imagery on his way to Jerusalem, when he was instructing his followers on the demands of discipleship. He said the punishment for leading another person into sin would be worse than being thrown into the ocean with a millstone around the neck. He added that it is the responsibility of his followers to correct those who go astray and that his followers must always forgive those who ask for pardon. When the apostles heard this, they must have taken a deep breath, and whispered to one another, “This is serious! What did we just get ourselves into?” Then they asked Jesus to increase their faith to be able to carry out this great responsibility. In response to them, Jesus made it clear that it is not the size of the faith that matters but how willing we are to make use of the little that is available to us. With faith, as little as the size of a mustard seed, we can achieve even what the world sees as impossible.
When the apostles heard the requirements of discipleship, they felt overwhelmed. About 600 years before the time of the apostles, the Prophet Habbakuk also felt overwhelmed by all that was going on in his community. Under the reign of King Jehoiakim, there was a lot of injustice, oppression of the weak, violence and evil of all sorts. Habbakuk, on behalf of the people, consulted God asking, “How long will this state of violence last?” And the Lord said to him: 1. There may not be an immediate change now; 2. But the people must not be discouraged; 3. God will intervene at the proper time; 4. Then the upright and the just will live and triumph while the wicked will be shamed.
My dear friends, we all have different names and different faces, so are our stories different. What is the tree or mountain in your life at this moment that you want uprooted? Does it have to do with your health? Your relationship? Your family? Your finances? Your education? A false allegation you are facing? The political situation in the country? Discrimination/segregation? Bullies? Are you at this point asking God, “How long will this situation last?” “How long will God be silent?” The Lord is speaking to you like He did to Habakkuk, God wants you to wait for His appointed time; God wants you to pray and remain courageous while you wait. St. Paul in the second reading urges you to “Fan into flame the gift that you have.”
Divine intervention is sure! But will you still be hanging in there when He intervenes? Be sure not to give up before God intervenes. When the brothers of Joseph sold him into slavery, they thought they had killed his dreams, but he kept holding onto his God even when it seemed like God had abandoned him to suffer in his innocence. And when the appointed time came, Joseph was promoted and he became a governor in a foreign land (Egypt), and his brothers came to bow before him and to seek his help.
You have all that it takes to succeed; make the best of whatever is available to you now; do not give up on your dreams. As it is said, “Good things come to those who wait patiently, but the best things come to those who pray while they wait.”