HOMILY FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Readings: Hbk. 1:2-3; 2:2-4/2Tim. 1:6-8,13-14
Psalm: 95: 1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Gospel: Lk. 17:5-10
The voice of God is the one sound that has been heard in the Universe since the beginning of time. This voice has spoken to all of creation and resonates in what that creation has done. God speaks to us in the air we breathe; in the water we drink; in the grass and the trees and flowers growing around us. We can even hear the Voice of God in those around us. There is not one place where the Voice of God has not been heard and his presence has not been felt. As the Psalmist said, “Were can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.” (Psalm 139: 7-8.). There is nowhere that the Voice of God has not been that we have been or will be. The Voice of God has been there; is there now; and will be there until the end of time.
Yet as the Voice of God speaks to us, we oftentimes fail to understand how he is speaking to us and to what he is saying. When we try to hear His Voice, we try to hear Him in the way that WE want or in the way we THINK He will speak to us. He can only do a Burning Bush so much without getting a sore throat. When he came before Elijah, it was not in the form of a strong wind or in the earthquake or a fire, but in the sound of silence. (1Kings 19:11-12). The Voice of God does not come to us in our way, but in His way.
So, do we allow ourselves to continue to hear the Voice of God in only one way, or do we have to remove our egos in order for His voice to be heard and understood in our lives? In the First Reading today, the Prophet Habakkuk is screaming to God for help to save the people of Judah from destruction. Rather than give him a simple “yes” or “no,” God instructs him to write down a vision that he will show Habakkuk that will address how some groups in his time have used their powers to benefit themselves over other groups.
But God assures Habakkuk that in time they will receive their punishment; just not in the time he may want. “For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” Finally, God reminds him that having faith in God is not a vending machine giving instant gratification, but a slow cooker that makes the meat inside be saturated with the smoke so that the meat is satisfying to the one who consumes it. “The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” By understanding how the Voice of God informs us and by what we do to hear that Voice can we truly call ourselves Disciples of God.
When we start hearing the Voice of God on a regular basis, we tend to want more than we need. In some cases, what we have is enough. It is just a matter of how to comprehend what faith we have so that we can be effective disciples. In the Gospel proclaimed, Jesus and his disciples were traveling to Jerusalem where he was admonishing them to be wary of sinful behavior. Jesus understands that we all sin, but we should not make a habit of it. But where there is sin, there must also be mercy and forgiveness. This is the basis of Faith in God: unlimited mercy and forgiveness. It is then that the apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus reminds them that if their faith were the size of mustard seed it would be enough. It is not for us to say how great our faith is in God, but how we use that faith that makes us his disciples and that is what Jesus was trying to get across. Christ further emphasizes the point by using the example of a master and servant at dinner. The servant does the will of the master so that he can say he has done his job and nothing more. “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” The Voice of God gives us the focus to see that all we need to be disciples is already inside of us. We just need a way to get access to it at times when we need it the most.
How do you begin to hear the Voice of God in your life? Does it come from on high? Does it come from the trees or the birds or through the work that you do? Or do you know how to hear the Voice of God? Sometimes the most religious people you may know may have not heard the Voice of God. They think they have heard him by appearing at Mass or helping out in the parish, but something has kept them from actually hearing the Voice of God. How can someone be able to truly hear the Voice of God on a regular basis?
To be able to hear the Voice of God, one must go beyond the events, beyond the advocacy, even beyond the public appearances at “religious activities” and start with the most fundamental thing a person can do: to show Mercy. This is the first revelation of us having faith in God. To have faith in someone is to show mercy that they are capable of displaying that same mercy to everyone. Then the Voice of God has come to others through us. When Mercy is given from us; and Mercy is given to us; then we can know the true meaning of love: genuine and without restrictions. Having Mercy in each one of us is to first show love for ourselves as we give that same love to others. We cannot have love and cannot be in love unless we are ready to be Merciful. As the Psalm today says, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” A Merciful heart cannot be hardened because it has been filled with unconditional love.
So when Mercy develops into unconditional love, then the miracle of life amplifies the Voice of God into the world. Mercy presupposes selflessness, and love presupposes unconditional giving of oneself. And where there is love, there is life. And where there is life, there is hope. All life and the capacity for good things; hope is the method by which we strive to achieve goodness. There will always be a debate in this country and in the world as to when life starts, but the point made here that whenever and wherever life is, there will always be hope.
For there to be substantial hope, we return to where we began: mercy. Mercy must be in everything that we do, see, hear and believe. If we do not, then we are no better than, as the Poet said “an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” We start with Mercy and we continue with Mercy. Mercy never ends because God never ends. The Voice of God comes to us this day and every day. Let us be Merciful to others as he has been Merciful to us.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL THAT YOU DO THIS WEEK
Questions for Reflection:
- Do you hear the Voice of God? How does He speak to you?
- When was the last time you asked God to increase you faith? Did you think what you
had was enough?
- The circle of faith starts and ends with having Mercy. When was the last time you
were merciful to yourself? Did forgiving yourself make it easier to forgive others?