27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C – October 2, 2022
LORD, INCREASE OUR FAITH
The month of October always begins with the Feast Day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus on October 1st who is the patron saint of missions and of florists. Thérèse was the youngest of nine children, five of whom survived childhood. After her mother died of breast cancer in 1877, Thérèse moved with her family to Lisieux. In the deeply religious atmosphere of her home, her piety developed early and intensively. Here famous saying is “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love”. In her autobiography she has shared her desire for martyrdom because she believed she will be loved and she quotes “Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of Saint Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the first epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace. I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others. For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind”.
She continues to say “When I had looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognized myself in none of the members which Saint Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favorably within the whole body. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed, I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realized that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting. Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly, I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction”.
And then on the 2nd of October Holy Mother Church invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Guardian Angels (first observed in the 16th century. In 1615, Pope Paul V added it to the Roman calendar) to believe and trust that God is protecting us from any evil we may encounter in our faith journey. Perhaps no aspect of Catholic piety is as comforting to parents as the belief that an angel protects their little ones from dangers real and imagined. Yet guardian angels are not only for children. Their role is to represent individuals before God, to watch over them always, to aid their prayer, and to present their souls to God at death. The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture but not directly drawn from it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”
And also during the whole month of October we follow the example of Blessed Virgin Mary as we continue to recite Rosary who being the first disciple of her own Son has taught us to “do what he says”. And St. Bernard helps us to open our hearts and mind to understand the mysteries of our Salvation through praying the Rosary: “The child to be born of you will be called holy, the Son of God, the fountain of wisdom, the Word of the Father on high. Through you, blessed Virgin, this Word will become flesh, so that even though, as he says: I am in the Father and the Father is in me, it is still true for him to say: “I came forth from God and am here.” In the beginning was the Word. The spring was gushing forth, yet still within himself. Indeed, the Word was with God, truly dwelling in inaccessible light. And the Lord said from the beginning: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Yet your thought was locked within you, and whatever you thought, we did not know; for who knew the mind of the Lord, or who was his counselor? And so, the idea of peace came down to do the work of peace: The Word was made flesh and even now dwells among us. It is by faith that he dwells in our hearts, in our memory, our intellect and penetrates even into our imagination. What concept could man have of God if he did not first fashion an image of him in his heart? By nature, incomprehensible and inaccessible, he was invisible and unthinkable, but now he wished to be understood, to be seen and thought of. But how, you ask, was this done? He lay in a manger and rested on a virgin’s breast, preached on a mountain, and spent the night in prayer. He hung on a cross, grew pale in death, and roamed free among the dead and ruled over those in hell. He rose again on the third day, and showed the apostles the wounds of the nails, the signs of victory; and finally in their presence he ascended to the sanctuary of heaven. How can we not contemplate this story in truth, piety, and holiness? Whatever of all this I consider, it is God I am considering; in all this he is my God. I have said it is wise to meditate on these truths, and I have thought it right to recall the abundant sweetness, given by the fruits of this priestly root; and Mary, drawing abundantly from heaven, has caused this sweetness to overflow for us”.
The whole month of October we reflect on the life of Blessed Virgin Mary, keep reminding us to have strong faith and God will give us everything we need as per Jesus’ promise “Ask and you will receive, search and you will find and knock, and the door will be opened for you”. Today’s Sacred Scripture is an eye opener for us to examine ourselves to see what we ask the Lord and how much patience we must wait for our prayers to be answered.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, back in the eleven hundreds, was riding up into the Alps to give a retreat. In passing a farmer he heard a grunt, and he stopped to look down at him. The man followed the grunt by saying, “I envy you, with nothing to do but pray while I have to kill myself working in this rocky soil.”
“Well,” the saint said, “Praying can be even harder work that digging around those stones.” “I doubt that very much,” the man said, “With that beautiful horse and the gorgeous saddle, what do you know of hardship?”
Up till then Bernard hadn’t given any attention to his mount. He said,” It is a beautiful horse, isn’t it? I’ll tell you what, if you can say the Lord’s Prayer from beginning to end without taking your mind off it, I’ll give you this horse.” “That’s so generous of you,” the man said; and he began praying, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be . . . . do I get the saddle too?”
In the First Reading Habakkuk is praying to God and is asking his help; “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? What is prayer? Prayer means asking, talking, dialoguing, meditating and above all building relationship. Praying to the Lord is not “why me Lord” but believing and trusting in the Lord that he has power to give us what we are asking from him. Many times I have shared the following story as I love this one to remind myself never to complain to the Lord by saying “why me Lord” but always remember to be grateful for all his blessings.
Arthur Ashe was the first black man to win the U.S. Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon. During a heart surgery in 1983, he got infected by the blood that he received and contracted AIDS.
From all over the world, he received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed: “Why did GOD have to select you for such a bad disease”?
To this, Arthur Ashe replied:
“The world over — 50 million children start playing tennis,
5 million learn to play tennis,
500,000 learn professional tennis,
50,000 come to the circuit,
5000 reach the grand slam,
50 reach Wimbledon,
4 to the semifinals,
2 to the finals,
When I was holding the cup I never asked GOD ‘Why me?’.
And today in pain I should not be asking GOD ‘Why me?’
At the end he said, “never tell God how big your problem is but always tell your problems how big your God is, and you will be released from your problems”.
In the Gospel when we reflect on the request of the disciple, I believe we must understand the following points as someone said”
- Happiness keeps you Sweet,
- Trials keep you Strong,
- Sorrow keeps you, Human,
- Failure keeps you humble and
- Success keeps you glowing, but only Faith & Attitude Keeps you going.”
Sometimes you are not satisfied with your life, while many others in this world are dreaming of living your life.
A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead and dreams of flying, while a pilot on the plane sees the farmhouse and dreams of returning home.
That’s Life! Enjoy yours…
- If wealth is the secret to happiness, then rich should be dancing on streets, but only POOR kids do that.
- If power ensures security, then VIPs should walk unguarded. But those who live simply sleep soundly
- If beauty and fame bring ideal relationships, celebrities should have the best marriages
Therefore, live simply, Be happy, Walk humbly & Love genuinely!
The request of the disciple in the Gospel today is genuine “Lord increase our Faith” and the reply of the Lord is the purest “if you have a faith like a mustard seed….” It seems that we can all make this our invocation. Yes Lord, our faith is small, our faith is weak and fragile, but we offer it to you as it is, so that you can make it grow. Would it be good to say this all together? Shall we repeat together: “Lord, increase our faith!”? Shall we? Everyone: Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Make it grow!
And how does the Lord answer us? He responds: “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea’, and it would obey you”. A mustard seed is tiny, yet Jesus says that faith this size, small but true and sincere, suffices to achieve what is humanly impossible, unthinkable. And it is true! We all know people who are simple, humble, but whose faith is so strong it can move mountains!
“Lord, increase our Faith” is a beautiful prayer, which we should pray often throughout the day: “Lord, increase our faith!”. Faith compared to the mustard seed is a faith that is not proud and self-confident; and doesn’t pretend to be that of a great believer! It is a faith that in its humility feels a great need for God and in its smallness, it abandons itself with total confidence to God. It is a faith that gives us the ability to look with hope at the ups and downs of life, which also helps us to accept defeats, and sufferings, in the knowledge that evil never has, nor never will never have, the last word. Faith has made Abraham, a Friend of God.
How can we know if we really have faith, that is, if our faith, though tiny, is genuine, pure, and honest? Jesus explains this to us by pointing out that the measure of faith is service. And he does so with a parable that at first glance is a little disconcerting, because it presents the figure of an arrogant and indifferent master. But it is exactly what this master does brings that highlights the true heart of the parable, that is, the attitude of the availability of the servant. Jesus wants to say that this is how a person of faith is should be in relation to God: he is completely surrendering to Gods will, without expectations or pretensions.
This attitude towards God is also reflected in the way we behave in the community: it is reflected in the joy of being at the service of one another, already finding in this its own reward and not in the recognitions and advantages that can result from it. It is what Jesus teaches at the end of this story: “When you have done all you have been commanded, say: “We are useless servants. We have done what we were obliged to do.”
Useless servants, that is, with no expectations of being thanked, with no demands. “We are useless servants” is an expression of humility, and willingness that does so much good to the Church and reminds us of the correct attitude needed to work in the Church: that of humble service, of which Jesus has set the example, in washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:3-17).
Many people arrived at the church to pray for the needed rain. The pastor greeted most of them as they filed in.
As he walked to the front of the church to officially begin the meeting, he noticed most people were chatting across the aisles and socializing with friends.
When he reached the front, his thoughts were on quieting the attendees and starting the meeting.
His eyes scanned the crowd as he asked for quiet. He noticed an eleven-year-old girl sitting quietly in the front row. Her face was beaming with excitement.
Next to her, open and ready for use, was a very colorful and extremely large umbrella, much bigger than her in fact.
The little girl’s beauty and innocence made the pastor smile as he realized how much faith she possessed. No one else in the congregation had brought an umbrella.
All came to pray for rain. But the little girl had come expecting God to answer.
Let us learn from Blessed Virgin Mary during this month of October who said “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it done to me according to your word” so that we may request everyday to the Lord to increase our faith so that we could hear him attentively and serve him.
Other Sermons In This Series
February 28, 2022
October 14, 2022
January 25, 2024