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Homily for the 27th Sunday October 3, 2010

posted Oct 5, 2010, 6:38 AM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

            The prophet Habakkuk in our first reading today is not "a happy camper."

He's mad at God ... and he has no problem expressing himself about it.

Bad things are happening all around him.

Bad things are happening to innocent folks.

It seems like Israel is going to hell in a hand-basket.

And where is God in all of this mess?

Why isn't God doing something about it?

            But God had already told Habakkuk in a vision that everything's going to be OK.

God's got a plan.

It's all going to work out in unexpected ways ... in ways that ol' Habakkuk couldn't understand at that moment.

But God's going to work it out.

And so, God tells Habakkuk:

"Your job is to write down the vision .... the vision of a future full of unimagined good ...

Yes, the vision still has its time ... but it's going to be fulfilled ... it won't disappoint ...

If it delays, wait for it," God says.

"It will surely come ... God's plan will work out ... it will not be late [at least not "late" in terms of God's time]."

            And then, since ol' Habakkuk was still complaining ... and not showing much faith in God's promise ... God says ...

"The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of faith, will live."

The one who's in a hurry to get it his own way ... rather than waiting on God's way ... that one won't last.

But the one who has faith ... the one who is willing to wait on God to do his thing, in his time, according to his will ... that one will live ... he'll "keep it together" ... the person of faith will live in peace.

            What Habakkuk is experiencing is the challenge of faith.

It's a challenge of faith that many of us have experienced.

It's easy to say that we have faith when things are going well.

It's easy to say "I believe in God" when things are going our way ...

But faith is a lot harder when things aren't going so well ... when we face difficulties ... challenges ... when what we see before us is sickness ... or death ... or tragedy ...

Like Habakkuk, we ask God to take care of things ... to make them right ... to "do his job," like we think he's supposed to ...

And, when it doesn't happen like we want, we ask him some more ...

And, then, maybe like Habakkuk, we start complaining ...

            But the challenge of faith ... the challenge that God gave to Habakkuk ... and the challenge that God gives to each of us ... is to go on believing that everything's going to be OK ... whatever we see before us at this particular moment.

God's got a plan.

It's all going to work out in unexpected ways ... in ways that maybe we don't understand at this moment.

But God's going to work it out.

Ultimately, God won't disappoint ...

The God who raised Jesus from the suffering and apparent defeat and the death of the Cross will not fail us ... ever ... as he did not fail Jesus ... even though, for a time, it seemed like he had.

But we just have to wait on God ... we have to wait on his plan ... in his time.

            The one who's in a hurry to get it his own way ... rather than waiting on God's way ... won't last ... that person's faith will just collapse..

But the one who has real faith ... the one who's willing to wait on God to do his thing ... that one will live ... he'll keep it together ... he'll find peace ... peace in the face of whatever may come ...

            I think that it's precisely this challenge that brings us to a mature faith ... a real faith ... an adult faith.

Faith is easy when it just means "Yeah, I believe this or that ..."   

Yeah, I believe that God exists.

Yeah, I believe in the power of prayer ... as long as my prayers "work" like I want them to.

But it all changes when we come up against suffering ... our own or those we love ...

And once we have asked God over and over again ... once we've complained ... and nothing happens ...

Well, then, ... well, we have some choices to make ...

We can get angry and bitter and maybe even give up on faith ... and we probably all know people who've been made bitter by the trouble that they've experienced in life [... maybe, sometimes, we have ourselves ...]

Or we can just try to wait it out ... wait out this particular trial ... look for distractions ... and when the worst passes, just go back to our lives the way that they were ...

Or  ... or we can grab hold of our faith ... in the midst of that trial ... we can grab hold of our faith in God ...  and we can embrace our faith ... and we can cling to our faith ... and lean on it ... and wait on the Lord to do what the Lord wants to do ...

Now, that's faith ... that's a mature faith ... a real faith ... an adult faith ...

            Suffering is the testing-ground of Christian faith ... suffering is what matures our faith ... suffering is what fortifies our faith ...

But, you know, for most of us, most of the time, the daily challenge to our faith is not suffering – suffering will come and put our faith to the test  – but the daily challenge  to our faith most of the time isn't suffering ...

The daily, day-in-and-day-out challenge to our faith is distraction ... it's apathy ... the daily challenge to our faith is indifference ...

Life's full of activities ... things to be done ...

Daily life is full noise ...

Our lives are so full of things we can enjoy .... things we can profit from  ... things to savor  ... to delight in ... to work for ... to shop for ...

Who has time for faith?

Who has time for God in our world today?

Who has time for the God who created us ... the God holds us in existence at this and every moment ...?

Who has time for the God who loves us ... and blesses us with every good thing ...  and forgives us ... and picks us up ...

Who has time for God ... that is ... ... that is, until the inevitable suffering comes ... until we hit the obstacle ... until there is sickness ... until there is dying ... until there is death?

Who has time for God until then?

            In the second reading today, St. Paul reminds us to "stir into flame the gift of God."

"Stir into flame the gift of God."

And that "gift of God" ... for each one of us ... is the gift of faith ...

It's the gift of faith to see the world rightly ... to know how to live as we ought ... the path we should follow ...

It's the gift of faith by which we know who  it is that we should be worshiping and following and praising ... who it is who is worthy of our time in our busy world today ...

The gift of faith that we have received is the gift that will see us through the challenges that life inevitably ... inevitably ... brings.

"Stir into the flame the gift of God."

Stir into flame the gift of faith.

Tend it ... nurture it ... feed it ... ignite it ... fan it ... until that tiny spark of faith becomes a flame ... and the flame .... becomes a fire ... and the fire of faith becomes bright enough to enlighten our own lives ... and the world around us ...

... and then, you and I can be part of that great plan that God is working out for the life of the world.

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