October 6, 2019
by Mike Cherney
Creighton University's Physics Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 141

Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Luke 17:5-10

Praying Ordinary Time

I see today’s readings as encouraging personal grit. The passage from Habakkuk warns of hard times. The Psalm encourages one to keep the faith. Paul’s letter considers suffering for the sake of the Word. The Gospel reminds me of my role as a servant.

Habakkuk seems to focus on doubt and frustration but moves on to trust in God. The passage starts in a world of injustice and warns of the impending chastisement that will come with Babylonian domination. He draws some solace in his prediction of the eventual downfall of the Babylonians. In the last verse of today’s passage, he makes clear his call to steadfastness in faith.

Psalm 95 is again a summoning to devotion and commitment. Although I read it as a call to trust, I am reminded of the people’s frustration with Moses and their putting God to the test.

Paul’s letter to Timothy makes clear the challenges that faith demands. With God as the source of our strength, we are called to respond with courageous service.

The Gospel Acclamation fits well with today’s scripture passages. It reminds us of the enduring nature of the World in spite of the trials that come in its way.

The apostles ask for an increase in faith in the Gospel. Earlier in this chapter Jesus lays out a set of challenging expectations; this prompts the apostles to recognize the need for more faith.  I see Jesus responding with a reminder that my position is not as lofty as I sometimes imagine and perhaps I should adjust my expectations.

I am in the midst of a week with my grandchildren – twins, 22 months old. They know when they want something, and they want things now. They do not hold back in letting me know. They love their Grandpa, but they are not going to trust me enough to endure delays or denials in fulfilling their wishes in the immediate moment. Delayed gratification is clearly something that is learned. I know where they are developmentally. This brings me to reflect on my own impatience. Like the Israelites of Habakkuk’s time, I can grow weary. Too often I would like to see my efforts pay off in the short term.

I think the more significant way in which these readings touched me was as a reminder of how little I am willing to resign control to God. My personality leaves me wanting to decide how things will progress. I am more than willing to take on the role of co-creator with my God. I am less eager to accept the moments when events are not under my influence. When I imagine myself as a person in the time of Habakkuk. I find myself accepting his concern about societal breakdown, but his message of the end of the kingdom and pending Babylonian domination are not something that I would welcome ultimately trusting in God. Similarly, I can see myself as one of those from the Psalm with misgivings at Meribah. Continuing in this vein, I do not think that I could have the same pride in being a prisoner for the Word that Paul reports even with the gifts of the Spirit as a source of strength. Finally, as was the case for the apostles, I see myself responding in asking for greater faith after learning what is expected. The second half of this Gospel particularly served as a reminder of where I fit in the grand scheme of things.

My prayer today centers around coming to grips with my place in this world.

Free me from any sense of entitlement.
Give me the patience and insight to recognize Your many gifts
and to thankfully respond.
Grant me the courage to overcome my need for control.
Allow me to embrace the gifts of the Spirit.
and help me to grow in faith.

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