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Pastor's Letter 20221002 - 02 October 2022 - Authentic Faith

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October 2nd, 2022

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time


A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:

“Authentic Faith”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

Virtually nothing is known of Habakkuk’s personal life, and what little is known has been deduced from indirect sources.  But there is no doubt of the prophet’s attitude toward God.  He boldly presents his entire work—58-verses long—with the premise that evil prospers and justice, seemingly, does not.  Our First Reading, today (Habakkuk 1:2-2:4,) outlines his complaint, and God’s response.  In answer to his people’s impatience, God assures that “vision still has its time,” and “will not disappoint,” if we remain faithful to His precepts.  


Our Second Reading (2 Timothy 1:6-14,) shows how Paul’s disciple understood what it means to “live by faith.”  Living in the early second century A.D., many had already succumbed to the rampant persecution of the early Church.  Those who survived experienced daily the “hardships the Gospel entailed.”  The author exhorts the Church in Ephesus to remember the powerful graces of their baptism, and to “stir into a flame the gift of God.”  Timothy, and all who succeeded the first apostles in leading the community were not merely to preserve tradition—the rich deposit of faith—intact and unchanged.  Rather, by lives of faithful service, there were to bear living witness to the teaching they had received.  By way of encouragement, the author recalled Paul’s example of faith, in with spite of a life of hardships.  Those who safeguarded and defended the Church were imbued with the same Spirit “who dwells within us,” to this very day.


“No rest for the weary,” might be an alternate title for the parable that comprises the heart of today’s Gospel (Luke 17:5-10.)  The evangelist gathered a mosaic of four sets of sayings and a parable, all loosely linked by their relationship to the various aspects of discipleship.  Luke presents the apostles’ plea for increased faith in the context of the moral demands of discipleship—avoidance of scandal and the obligation of continual forgiveness.  Jesus’ parables show that the quantity of one’s faith was not important as the quality of that faith.  In other words, a truly genuine faith can render the impossible…possible.  Therefore, faith becomes a willing cooperation and the ordinary duty of every faithful disciple.  For us, and the Pharisees in his audience, Luke’s messages should deflate the pride we feel for our accomplishments.  Since we know God does not need our service, we cannot deserve salvation, even with the most perfect human labors do not deserve salvation—which remains a gift from God.    

Growth in Faith

When evil flourishes and seems to overwhelm the just, the faithful are filled with questions (Habakkuk.)  When suffering threatens to undo the work of the Gospel, and when its disciples are made to endure persecutions and hardships, the faithful are filled with questions (2 Timothy.)  When there seems to be no reward for work well done and when total dedication is met with a challenge to even greater service, the faithful are led to question (Luke.)  To all these questions, there are no “pat answers,” or solutions—only an earnest request: “Lord, increase our faith.”

Those people are indeed fortunate, who are born into a religious faith, and who, with the passage of years, find this faith increasingly strong and sustaining.  To possess a confident faith is a tremendous blessing.  Only faith can answer the most propound questions of life.

Without faith, there is no reason for anything, and nothing is in its proper place.  Life becomes unintelligible and unbearable without God.  Faith gives life meaning and vision.  Without it, life is like a night without stars….

Faith adds the buoyancy of hope to life.  We need hope as much as we need food.  But without faith, we cannot have hope.  Faith also results in joy.  Happy those who discover the joy of believing, the rapture of faith in God, the ecstasy of heeding the divine invitation and “clasping God’s outstretched hand.”

But we must not expect faith to “clear everything up” for us.  We live in a world where many desperately seek to “know all the answers.”  Just because we believe doesn’t mean we know everything.  But, we don’t need to know all the answers.  People don’t have to understand a work of art to take inspiration from it.  Faith is trust, not certainty.

Rationalists approach God and religion as something that can be understood and explained; mystics approach God as something mysterious, which can neither be understood nor explained, but only experienced.  Logic cannot tell us everything.  However, faith doesn’t contradict reason; it goes beyond it; it transcends it.  Faith is a gift from God, but God does not force himself on anyone.  

Faith is not a thing, in fact, but a relationship with God.  The expression to lose your faith, as one might lose a key, or a wallet, is really rather silly.  Faith is not a thing that one loses; we merely cease to shape our lives by it.

All of us should make our own the prayer of the apostles made when they began to understand the scope of the requirements our Blessed Lord was placing upon them: “Lord, increase our faith.”  

When we were children, we tended to believe everything we were taught.  With that came certainty and comfort with those concepts that comprised our innocent world.  However, as we grew older, we began to question…everything.  The disbelief of adolescence is a glaring example.  Such uncertainty, especially in the almost instantly-changing and demanding world of today can lead to despondency and feelings of worthlessness.  The outcome of such despair can sometimes lead youngsters, and even adults, to contemplation of suicide.  

That is why, we must come to understand, at its core, it’s not enough to simply “keep” our faith, we must also “grow” in it.  Faith is not something we acquire fully developed at the start…it has to grow, and as it does so, it changes.  Faith does not remain stationary; any more than our other relationships remain static.  

Like muscles, faith also grows when it is exercised, properly nourished.  Those beliefs that we don’t sustain become less solid.  The regimen required to feed and build our faith involves meditative prayer and regular supportive contact with a believing community.  

Faith is the greatest power in the world.  That is what Jesus meant when He said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to the mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”  This is a striking way of saying that with faith, a task or undertaking that appears beyond our ken, becomes achievable.  

One recalls Gandhi’s words, when he said, “Those with a grain of faith never lose hope, because they believe in the ultimate triumph of truth.”  

May God Richly Bless You!

Festive Praise.docx


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