From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
October 2 – Twenty-seventh in Sunday Ordinary Time
“How long O Lord, I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you ”Violence!” but you do not intervene! Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?” The prophet Habakkuk gives voice to the frustration and hopelessness of his time. He did not understand where God was and what he was doing. Many of us I suspect have felt this very same feeling as we look around the world today as well. At times, I just want to scream, “where are you God — and why don’t you care??” But God says to the prophet, and to us later in this book, “trust me – I have this! I have the answer, but you must have faith! I’ve got a plan! A clear vision of the future. Be patient – trust in me!”
In the gospel, the apostles ask Jesus to “increase their faith.” Why? These are all men travelling with Jesus. Living with him. If anyone has faith, they do. The key is in what Jesus has said to them just before this reading. He has just told them, evil will come, things that cause sin will occur. As disciples, we will need to stand up to others when they sin. Feelings will get hurt, mistakes will be made and forgiveness will need to rule the day. No wonder the apostles felt like they needed an increase in faith.
But increasing faith is what WE must do for ourselves. St. Pope John Paul II said that “Suffering is an invitation to be like the Son by doing the will of the Father.” Through suffering our faith grows and we are connected to the cross of Jesus. Our blindness to His presence during our difficult times makes him no less present. But the strength of our faith during those times makes us more present and trusting in Him. We are to listen for the Lord, be patient and be faithful, and trust in his plan…and be careful when we hear His voice not to harden our hearts. God understands our frustrations, our fears, and yes, even our anger. But he tells us repeatedly “be not afraid! – and – Peace be with you1’”
St. Mother Teresa serves as a model for us of how to embrace our faith. Her persistence in her work, her obedience to God – even when there was total silence, was not evidence of her disconnection from Christ, but rather it was evidence of a faith so strong, it couldn’t be broken. Her faith played out in the life she led. She once said, “I am willing to suffer for all eternity, if that is possible.” We must bring Christ fully into our lives and our awareness. We must embrace his love and his will completely and with total trust. We grow our faith just as we grow love – by living for one another with no strings attached. We grow our faith through the Eucharist – accepting Christ fully into our beings, taking his renewed presence in us, and living our faith out through our actions of love and caring toward one another.
As Vincentians, we deal with so much adversity and see hopelessness and despair. The greatest gift we carry to those in need is the gift of faith and hope. We are to carry the answer of God to those in need – do not despair! Trust in the Lord always! Listen for His voice! St Vincent modeled throughout his life strength in overcoming adversity by trusting in God’s plan and being His instrument of hope to those who are hopeless. When faced with adversity for myself and others, how do I turn to God in faith, seeking His will in all things? How do I trust fully that He will provide me the answers? Am I the face of despair or the face of hope?
Lord Jesus, in our humanity we can feel the frustration and the anger of Habakkuk. We too cry out from time to time as we do not see nor understand your plan for ourselves and so many in suffering. Give us the courage to increase in faith by embracing suffering and hardships. Sustain us in your love that we may come to accept your will especially when we do not understand. Let our doubt and our fear be replaced by your certain hope, with faith and trust in your desire that we all be enveloped in your loving embrace. We pray all of this in your name. Amen