Increase our Faith

Homily for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

“The road of life was bright
It stretched before my sight.
The Lord was at my side
to be my friend and guide.
And so I started out.

“But then the sky grew dark,
and the road grew steep and stark.
Rocks and ruts cut my feet.
My legs grew sore and weak.
I scarce could travel on.

“I turned and cried ‘My Lord!
Why this pain; why this plight?
Why these ruts; why these rocks?
Why this darkness? Where’s the light?
I cannot carry on.’

“The Lord replied, ‘My child!
Why this fear; why this fright?
Where’s your faith? Where’s your trust?
Love chose this road for you.”
(Author unknown)

Just as in that poem sometimes our cross or various difficulties make us question and wonder about our faith and God. There are times when we all doubt. When something goes wrong we may, in a moment of foolishness, say God doesn’t care, or God is gone on vacation, or ask “Does God exist?” In the first reading today the prophet Habakkuk cried out to God, “How long, Lord, am I to cry for help while you will not listen?” (Hab 1:2) In the Gospel the apostles asked Jesus, “Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5) What answer did they both receive? God said to Habakkuk at the end of our first reading, “...the upright man will live by his faithfulness.” (Hab 2:4) In the Gospel, did Jesus increase his apostles’ faith? No. He said, “Were your 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.” (Luke 17:6) We already have all the faith we need. We already have enough faith to say to a tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea. In other words, we already have enough faith to help us overcome life’s problems. Instead it is a question of drawing on the gift of faith that we already possess. We are sons and daughters of God but what a pity it is that we don’t allow this faith to have more of an effect in our lives.

We struggle when we need not struggle; we are afraid when we need not be afraid; we are discouraged when we need not be discouraged. And all because we do not use the little bit of faith we have and trust in God to make things come out right. Sometimes we look at ourselves instead of God. We look at ourselves and we say “I can’t do it. I am not strong enough, wise enough. I do not have the money, or the faith, or the ability to succeed in what I am doing.” That may be true, we may not be able on our own. But with God we can accomplish what we could not do without God. Sometimes too when we look at the Church, or listen to journalists’ comments, we see only the negative. But the Church is also mystical and God is with the Church to the end of time. The words of Paul to Timothy in our second reading are very beautiful. Paul is saying to Timothy, “Don’t look at yourself, look at what God has given you, do not be timid.”

“I am reminding you to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity but the Spirit of power and love and self-control.”

What had God given to Timothy? St. Paul ordained Timothy when he laid hands on him and Paul is reminding Timothy to remember the gift of priesthood he received from God at Ordination and fan that gift into a flame. 

Habakkuk cried out to God, “How long, O Lord, am I to cry for help while you will not listen?” (Hab 1:2) The apostles asked Jesus for more faith and he said, “Were your 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.” (Luke 17:5)

“The road of life was bright
It stretched before my sight.
The Lord was at my side
to be my friend and guide.
And so I started out.

“But then the sky grew dark,
and the road grew steep and stark.
Rocks and ruts cut my feet.
My legs grew sore and weak.
I scarce could travel on.

“I turned and cried ‘My Lord!
Why this pain; why this plight?
Why these ruts; why these rocks?
Why this darkness? Where’s the light?
I cannot carry on.’

“The Lord replied, ‘My child!
Why this fear; why this fright?
Where’s your faith? Where’s your trust?
Love chose this road for you.”
(Author unknown)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday Year C

Have faith during crises

Commentary: humble servant excerpt of Enjoying the Bible

on Gen 2 excerpt Enjoying Paul and Old Testament

October - Respect Life Month

Life Homilies