06Oct 06 October, 2019. 27th Sunday (C)

1st Reading: Habbakuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4

When the prophet mourns injustice, God promises a day of justice

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 wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.

Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.

Responsorial: Psalm 94:1-2, 6-9

Response: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;
hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks,
with songs let us hail the Lord. (R./)

Come in; let us bow and bend low;
let us kneel before the God who made us.
For he is our God and we
the people who belong to his pasture,
the flock that is led by his hand. (R./)

O that today you would listen to his voice!
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as on that day at Massah in the desert
when your fathers put me to the test;
when they tried me, though they saw my work.’ (R./)

2nd Reading: 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14

Like his teacher Paul, Timothy must make sacrifices for his ministry

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.

Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Gospel: Luke 17:5-10

Faith the size of a mustard seed can achieve great things

The apostles said to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”


Growing in prayer

“Lord increase our faith,” said the apostles. Elsewhere they asked him, “Lord teach us how to pray” (Lk 11:1). In essence the two requests were the same. To pray is to focus our heart on God, to have faith in God’s concern for us. Every prayer renews our trust in God, and whenever we turn to God in faith, we are praying. It is no more possible to have faith without prayer than to swim without water. But we need to pray in the right spirit. Too often we just want to bring God around to our way of thinking rather than putting ourselves under God’s guidance.

Sometimes prayer is used as a magical formula, a last resort, worth a try when all else fails. A lawyer was walking along a street with a scholarly friend. When they came to a ladder leaning against a house which was being painted, the scholar refused to pass under it. The lawyer laughed and said “Surely you don’t believe in that old superstition about never walking under a ladder!” “No, I don’t believe in it,” the scholar answered, “but I never waste a chance of avoiding an accident.” Maybe that’s how we approach prayer. We don’t strongly believe in it, but we feel that maybe it might work, as a last resort. So we could join in that request, “Lord, increase our faith; Lord, teach us how to pray.”

Jesus did not just teach his friends how to pray, he showed them by his own example. Often he would turn to God and address him as Father. Early in the morning he would go up the hillside, his favourite place for quiet prayer. When visiting Jerusalem, he spent nights at prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, so Judas knew where to find him on the night of his arrest. His prayer in the garden is clearly reported. “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will, not mine be done” (Lk 22:42f). Well, the Father did not take away the cup of suffering from Jesus. But by embracing the will of God, something greater was to follow for Jesus, ultimately his resurrection and ascension. “Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain. But if it dies, it yields much fruit.”

If they could see me now

“If they could only see me now.” What would our parents or friends think of us if they saw how we behaved in various circumstance, whether we were generous or mean. Many feel this need for the opinion by others, especially to be valued or praised. Unless there’s an audience of some kind to validate us, we hardly think it worthwhile to make the effort. How easy it is to dress up things with a veneer of virtue. Yet only God sees the heart and knows our thoughts.

The opinions of others do matter to some extent. But what counts in the long run is not human opinion but how God sees us. Nothing compares with that judgment. The basic issue is whether we have been authentic human beings. Because of fidelity, the righteous will live. Life in the state of grace, does not depend on social reputation, but on our inner quality. As Paul says, one cannot even fully judge oneself. About righteousness, we can only trust in God’s mercy, while making an honest effort to do what is right. Then the principle applies: “for those who loves God, all things work together unto good.”

If we did things simply for God’s approval, would we be exploited by others? So we won’t commit to being just and generous until others doing so too. The rat-race is nobody’s fault, and yet it’s everybody’s. Social solidarity can only begin when individuals choose it for its own sake. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask rather what you can do for your country.” Ultimately, this is the way to salvation. When our race has been run, and the Master comes to judge our service, only those who have been generous will feel at home in God’s company. Then we will see that this was the right way to live. “Well done good and faithful servant,” and we will say “It was no more than our duty.”

Unprofitable servants? A better word might be “ordinary”. The servants had just done their job, what was expected; they made their due contribution to life, to God and to others. With Jesus as our guide, we would do this as normal. The standards he sets for us are high. Our lives will be worthwhile and noble, if we also choose them for ourselves.


Saint Bruno, priest, founder of the Carthusians

Bruno of Cologne, Germany (1035-1101) studied and was ordained in Paris. For some years he was a celebrated teacher at Reims, and served a close advisor to Pope Urban II. Refusing the offer of a bishopric he spent some time with the hermits who were later to form the Carthusians. In 1084 with six of his companions he went to Grenoble, whose bishop assigned them to a secluded place named Chartreuse in the lower French Alps where they founded the first Carthusian monastery.

Giollaí gan Tairbhe

Neamhthairbheach?  Focal níos oiriúnaí beidir ná “coitianta’” nó “gnáth caighdeán”.  Rinne na giollaí an méid a bhí de dhualgas orthu a dhéanamh.   Is minic  agus is éasca bheith faillíoch  i ndualgais Dé in áit a bheith díograiseach.   Is cuma linn an guí  agus cúrsaí móráltachta, agus bímíd ag súil le moladh as ucht aon dea ghníomh a dhéanaimíd.    Ach toisc gur ar Íosa atá ár seasamh mar threoirí, déanfaimís gach ar a Shon gan stró agus le dea bhail mar mheas Air agus ar atá Sé ag súil uainn.   Bheimís níos fearr as dá leanfaimís dea-shampla Íosa ’nar saol laethúil.

7 Responses

  1. Seamus Ahearne

    The Marketing Guru:

    I’m not on Facebook or on Twitter. I am rather disconnected from the world of TV. Only the iPad keeps me up to date and the late night Radio. Nehemiah (Thursday) did stir up the crowd at Mass today. They were preening themselves. ‘That is what we do.’ Or so they said. They get the sense. They understand. The Word gnaws at their innards. Something stirs their own experiences. They are happy to share. We reminded Francie of his speech many years ago. We had Monica Brown and the clown Hilary. The clowning got to him. He caught the sense of awe for the Book. The only illiterate present immediately saw what reverence was and why. (We were taken beyond the superficiality of twitter, Facebook, texting.)

    Some were smiling at Jerome (Monday) and his efforts to quench the passions. Others were rather pleased that the ‘holy women’ surrounded him. Everyone was delighted that Jerome jostled with Augustine. They liked the fighting spirit even if their holy endeavours were tempered with such carry on. A few recalled their long ago affection for Therese – the little flower (Tuesday). Even if I found it rather gushy. The Guardians angels weren’t too keenly felt!

    All manner of things entice this crowd to share. They also liked the angry screams of Habakkuk (for the weekend) at God. Many could identify with the sentiments. The ‘fanning into a flame the gift that God gave you’ – was more like being set on fire with indignation.

    This mustard seed and the mulberry bush being planted in the sea was too elaborate and farfetched. (Sunday). The slave/servant relationship with the Master was rather confused. However the faith among us and the sense of God’s presence was provocative and affirming.

    I am very simple and very ignorant. My knowledge of adverts is minimal. Many are too complicated for me to grasp. I do like the Ads for a TV licence; they are sharp and catching. I like the Specsavers ones – they both amuse and give a message. I like the one – ‘when they’re gone; they’re gone.’ And I often recall – ‘are we there yet ?’. (I can’t remember what it was about but the message was good). Most of the other ads are beyond me.

    I am wondering how would we, make up/create/ prepare ‘Ads for Faith’ like the marketing people above do? Jesus is always telling stories. He is a showman. He is the director of the Theatre. He is a master of the surprise. He does the unexpected. We can ask – where on earth is this going as we listen or watch? And then somehow, something strikes home. Or someone says something. We are inclined to say – the so-and-so, he caught me out again. But a word/a taste/ a story lingers. The Good Book is always a tease. Something gets home. Little seeds making a big splash in the ocean is rather nonsensical. But it doesn’t’ have to make sense. I see this story daily. Revelations. Little things. Little people. Ordinary events. Somehow, something smashes my mind open. And I think again of Mary Oliver and Gratitude. (Her very special poem) I am alive. If those ‘little moments’ wake me up. Who is the servant and who is the master? Washing feet or being waited on? The world is alive with the sound of music.

    And finally – the God of daily life ‘waits on us’ all the time at the Table of wonder, beauty, miracles, poetry, surprise, suffering, birth, death, love. If only my old eyes could see. Something has to prise the slow heart open to notice. I ramble back to the old wheel blowing the griasach in my grandmother’s open fire and how this had to done patiently and gently. There are indeed green shoots even in Winter. There are little ‘Adverts’ of Faith waking me up. There are moments of song/music where God whispers or hums on a dull day. If I could see. If I could wake. If my head, heart, imagination is big enough.

    Seamus Ahearne osa

  2. Pat Rogers

    Hi Seamus,
    Fantastic stuff! Please keep them coming. And how I wish that many others in the ACP, plus others who make use of our site, would add their insights, doubts and convictions, to enrich the Resources section.
    From the beginnin of Advent (Dec 1st) I hope to add an audio file to each Sunday’s resources; and (if that goes well) even to the Weekday inputs. Let’s see where it leads us.

  3. Pádraig McCarthy

    Habakkuk: He has such confidence and faith that he can complain very bluntly to God! He receives an instruction to write the vision down, inscribed on tablets, to be easily read so that when the time comes the people will realise the truth of it. Perhaps an encouragement for those who struggle to write down the Word, perhaps on our tablet computers, so that perhaps some at least will read the message at the appropriate time.
    There’s a striking sculpture of Habakkuk by Donatell in the Duomo Museum in Florence: https://www.teggelaar.com/en/florence-day-3-continuation-6/. The closing verses of Habakkuk (3:17-19) strike me: Even if all else fails, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. It’s a canticle in the breviary.

    Luke: It’s a pity the few previous verses are not included: to love one another by correction and forgiveness without limit. No wonder Luke puts the request of the disciples for an increase in faith following those mandates.

    The second part of the gospel reading seems to have little connection with the first part. The boss described seems very inconsiderate. But remember that on a Sunday eight weeks ago, in Luke 12, Jesus spoke of a master whose servants are diligent, and who puts on an apron himself and serves them. Jesus has his way of prodding us into reflection. Today, the message seems to be what we sometimes hear in crime dramas, where the one who comes to the aid of the person is in need is thanked profusely, and replies: “Just doing my job.”
    Be aware too of next Sunday’s gospel: the ten lepers. The context of our readings can help us see the larger picture.

    God’s gift is not a spirit of timidity, but the spirit of power and love and self-control. A gift to be fanned into flame to set fire to the earth.

  4. Pat Rogers

    A very rich and helpful reflection Padraig. Please keep them coming.

  5. Seamus Ahearne

    No more than our duty.

    I had friends in Sydney many years ago. S & A. Their daughter M took sick with a serious kidney problem. S wrote to me. He was considering donating a kidney to his daughter M. He was strongly advised against doing so. I wrote back to him. He went ahead with the operation. Years later, S & A had returned from Sydney to Glasgow. S wrote again. He recalled what I had said. He had treasured my words. I have no idea what those words were. There was a new problem. M was on dialysis.

    M had grown up. She wanted to be like every other girl of her age. Her way of life affected the new kidney. It failed. Somehow and strangely, her mother A’s kidney was compatible. Mother A decided to donate her kidney to her daughter. S was in full agreement. He wanted more words from me.

    I wrote. My letter was cautious. I asked a very stupid question. Would M now mind/take care/appreciate this new kidney? S wrote back to me. He said that himself and A couldn’t consider such a question. They gave what they had. It was their gift as parents. What M did with this gift was totally up to her. They were being parents. (It was no more than their duty – their love). I was struck forcibly by his comments. He was right.

    A year later, they were all at a family celebration. M was in a very serious mood. Due to all the medication, she was wondering how long her life might be. She felt that she had a short time to live. She was now looking at her son. She said this: “I can cope with anything and everything but I can’t bear the thought that my little boy might be without me his mother.” Her parents A & S said to her. “Now you know how we felt about you. We would have done anything for you.” She was totally amazed. She had never thought of it like that. Now she knew.

    No more than our duty.

    Life is gift. Nature is gift. Friends are a gift. Family is a gift. Faith is a gift. Health is a gift. Talent is a gift. Seeing/hearing is a gift. Speaking is a gift. Everything is grace and gift. There is no entitlement. Before God, all we can ever be, is in humble gratitude. That makes some sense of the Gospel for me.

    Seamus Ahearne osa

  6. Mary Vallely

    I heard these words read at mass this morning.

    “ God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”

    I committed them to memory intending to write them up on the ACI Facebook as a wee “thought for the day”. We can so easily take for granted the gifts we have been given.

    Then I read your story about parental love, Seamus. Thank you so much for sharing! We need more positive examples of love in action and of the enactment of the Gospel. As I have said before, it does our hearts good to be reminded of the Spirit’s presence everywhere and of our “relying on the power of God” to get us through difficult moments.

  7. Pádraig McCarthy

    Thanks, Séamus. “We would have done anything for you.” Without counting the cost – without even thinking of cost. That sums it up.
    We do not “earn” or “deserve” the gifts of God: they are gifts. In each and every moment of life and consciousness we are already vastly over-gifted. Three types of obedience:
    1: The obedience of the slave: no freedom, but obligation, with punishment the reward for non-compliance.
    2: The obedience of the mercenary: What’s in it for me.
    3: The obedience of the parent or the child: Not forced, not mercenary, but “we would have done anything for you” out of love.

Scroll Up