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Ordinary Time 27 (C)
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Readings for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

 


1. Habakkuk 1, 2-3 and 2, 2-4
  • How long, O Lord?  The prophet is exclaiming here as much as he is questioning.  I have waited often in my life, and I need to remember my longest waits.  Then, more gently: I cry for help but you do not listen.
  • I cry out to you, Violence!  But you do not intervene.  Let me reflect that God loves peace.  Does God believe I am crying Wolf?  Or is my faith being tested, like that of the apostles during the storm on the lake?
  • Why do you let me see ruin, misery, destruction and violence, strife and clamorous discord?  The prophet is not part of any of this, and is helpless to stop it.  I don’t have to pound the words into my listeners’ ears, but I want them to hear what I hear.  
  • Then the Lord answered me.  How will God answer?  Probably in unexpected ways.  I think of it as a dialog in which the prophet begins on one key, in a voice that is almost shrill.  God replies on another more composed, deeper and gentler key.  But is it really an answer?
  • Write down the vision clearly.  The message is not cryptic but legible.  These are instructions for others.  Let the congregation listen expectantly.
  • The vision still has its timeit will not be late.  Whose time?  God’s counsel is not like ours.  In our mouth it would sound pretentious, but God knows where this is going.  Can I convey that kind of confident word?
  • Climax: The just one, because of his faith, shall live.  The Letter to the Romans made this phrase famous.  Here is the lesson: Perseverance.
  • Message for our assembly: God takes time.  God has all the time in the world. 
  • I will challenge myself: To make a contrast in my voice between the prophet’s lament and God’s directions.

2. II Timothy 1, 6-8 and 13-14

  • I hear final encouragement to a disciple.  Stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.  It does not sound like a check list of external directions, but rather like a call to realize the inner potential that the apostle saw and honored. 
  • This will tell me how to say it.  I am not writing an e-mail, but speaking face to face with my beloved disciple in a small room. 
  • God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of (listen carefully to this set of virtues) power and love and self-control.  The self-control is needed to reconcile the Spirit’s power and love. 
  • Do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me a prisoner.  We are rediscovering the divisions that existed among the apostles and the betrayals of Christians to the authorities by Christians.  And we remember the betrayals that were encouraged by Pius X a century ago when he condemned modernism.  Such informing on others is happening in our own time, as we know well.  The true disciple should not be disheartened but instead soldier on. 
  • Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me – first the apostle mentions the human plane, and then the divine – in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  That is the spirit with which every disciple must listen and act.
  • I finally started to notice!  Over and over: the gift of God, strength from God, faith in Christ, help of the Holy Spirit.  The disciple is not alone and certainly not acting with her own resources, for the Trinity accompanies us.
  • Guard this rich trust, not of course to hide it but to use it for the church.
  • Climax: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel. 
  • The message for our assembly: This entire letter is an appeal to a bold witness.  We need to overhear it carefully, because betrayals are much too common today.
  • I will challenge myself: To use my best encouraging voice, as I become the apostle today.

Gospel. Luke 17, 5-10

  • Increase our faith.  Here is the first of two sections that don’t seem to fit together.  I might pause briefly between them.
  • If you have faith the size of a mustard seed.  Let me speak it gently, to indicate the tiniest bit of faith there can be. 
  • It would obey you.   A Semitic exaggeration, perhaps, but more unusual things have happened.  I should not use a voice of disbelief but of assurance.
  • Who among you would say to your servant  Let me go along with the social structures of ancient times.  I am reminded, though, of the way many contemporaneous cultures – including my own – treat housewives and office assistants.
  • Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?  Again I remember that the example comes from ancient times.  I say it in a way that would elicit “No” from my listeners, knowing at the same time that they will be conflicted as they say it. 
  • We are unprofitable servants  Now we should appreciate the service of others, but as servants ourselves we do not look for reward.  Ignacio de Loyola wrote a prayer for generosity which also says “not to seek reward.”  So we are not dealing with an anachronism but rather with a foundation attitude for Christians.
  • Central theme: Christ expects much of his disciples.  Such faith!  Such a service ethos!  The Gospel of Luke contrasts this over and over with the self-serving attitude that pervades all organizations. 
  • Message for our assembly: Do we look for recognition and even applause?  I will admit that I don’t reject a word of recognition now and then.
  • I will challenge myself: To take my time with this short reading, so full of challenges to disciples, and to make it contemporary for ourselves.

From Word to Eucharist: All of us, leaders or followers, in whichever ministry, are fired by a vision of service to the church and the world.  We begin the mass in a spirit of repentance.  Let us take this spirit with us to the table of the Eucharist.

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