27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday’s First Reading is from a minor, obscure prophet named Habakkuk. He is generally believed to have written his book in the mid to late 7th century BC, not long before the Babylonians’ siege and capture of Jerusalem. He and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem have been praying for relief and help, but none seems forthcoming. So Habakkuk gives voice to the people’s fear: 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? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord. In these days of economic distress, unemployment, etc, this is a prayer than any one of us could utter.

And Yahweh answers by reminding Habakkuk – and us – that in God’s good time, the prayer will be answered, and not before.

Now that doesn’t sit well with us. We’re an impatient people. We want answers and solutions now. We tire of the stress that comes with waiting, with trying to make ends meet, with trying to do the right thing. We want it now, now, now.

Along comes Jesus with a story about servants who have been laboring in the fields all day. They come home at eventide, and still have to wait on the master and serve him his dinner. He’s the master, they are the servants, and servants have no entitlements whatsoever.

In short, the point that Jesus is making is that God doesn’t owe us a thing, and definitely not a prompt response to our desires and needs.

But Yahweh, and later Jesus, DO promise that a response WILL COME. The desire for an instantaneous response is an indicator of our lack of faith. The delay in a response builds up our faith, so that in the end we will be able to uproot the mulberry tree and plant it in the sea (the opening scene of the Gospel). Delay increases our faith. Deeper faith gives us enormous power in dealing with all that afflicts us, and in particular gives rise to the gift of patience. Patience and faith together build to the absolute conviction that even though God doesn’t owe us a thing, he will respond because he loves us and cares for us. It’s just that the response will come after a suitable time of doing the necessary inner and outer work that we have to do.

Be God’s smile for someone today!

Herb Yost, CSC

Fr Herb, C.S.C.

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