Some reflections on last Sunday’s readings at Mass.
The first reading — Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4 — has two parts. In the first the prophet notes the evil around him and complains that God does not intervene to stop it. This can certainly resonate with us today, as violence is still widespread. God’s response, in the second part is to assure us that there will a fulfillment of the vision of peace. We need faith. But what of all those who suffer before the fulfillment? There is no perfect answer. In the Book of Job we are reminded that our understanding is so limited that we shouldn’t complain over the small amount of reality that we can see. Instead, as we hear in today’s reading, we must rely on our faith which tells us God makes all things right, even though we don’t see how.
The responsorial psalm — Ps 95: 1-2, 6-9 — calls us to praise God, not to resist him
In the second reading — 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14 — Paul reminds Timothy that we can all expect hardship. But we,like Habakkuk, must not be discouraged. We should have faith and be witnesses to the Gospel. We have the grace necessary to follow his example.
The gospel — Luke 17:5-10 — begins with an encouragement to faith, in line with the first reading. It isn’t to be taken literally. Faith isn’t about useless shows of power. It’s about relying on God for ultimate salvation, as we’re told in the earlier readings. It’s about realizing that reality extends beyond the way we experience things in our present life into the transcendent eternity of a loving God who will eradicate evil beyond the limits time imposes on our vision. Meanwhile, as the remainder of the reading reminds us, faith is also what drives us to give our lives over to God in love. In this way, life is not a matter of simply obeying a list of rules. Doing that is not enough for us. Life becomes a matter of being motivated by love in all we do. We may not be perfect in this regard, so we need to grow in grace — grace we can receive by consuming the Body and Blood of Jesus, as promised in John 6:53-57.