ST. MARY THE MOTHER OF GOD CATHOLIC CHURCH

370 East Main Street
PO Box 7
Wytheville, VA 24382
Phone: (276) 228-3104
Fax: (276) 228-3322
officemanager@stmaryswytheville.com

Welcome to the Pastor's Desk

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Did you know that long before the soft drink Coke was ever produced, the Bible had already a commercial on it? The “ad” goes: “Have a Coke,” in Hebrew, Habakkuk!

“Habakkuk” is the name of a less popular prophet in the Old Testament. And in the first reading of this Sunday, we read about him. What’s unique about this man is his courage to stand up before God and complain, “How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen!” Then seeing all the violence and misery around, he dared to question how God is governing the world.

Habakkuk may well represent a good number of us in situations when everything seems to be going wrong, when we feel that God is so distant and does not seem to care about our problems.

God’s answer is: “Be patient with Me. I am the Master. What I ask of you is to have faith.”

By faith we mean, a loyalty and steadfastness in the midst of day-to-day trials and difficulties.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 17, 5-10), the disciples asked Jesus to “increase our faith.” It was a sincere request on their part, aware as they have tendency to have fears and doubts. Oftentimes, we have faith not so much in God rather in our own efforts and resources. The truth is, we are men and women of little faith.

Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth and to live in the power of his love which was revealed through Jesus. God expects more from us than we can do by ourselves. Faith in God is the key for removing obstacles and difficulties which keep us from doing His will. We are his servants and He is ever ready to work through us and in us for His glory. For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience, that is, an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands.

Usually after the homily we said the Apostles’ Creed or Nicene Creed. Creed is the Latin word for “I believe.” The Latin word for Credo which is Cor do, can be translated as ‘I give my heart; I make present of my heart; in you I set all my whole trust.” So faith is essentially an affair of the heart. Faith is a personal acceptance of the person of Christ. It is coming to Jesus, a personal relationship with Him and to follow Him and His ways, (cf. PCP-II no. 64).

Faith has several characteristics. If we have faith in God let’s be sure that we have the following characteristics:

First, faith is personal it is our personal response of acceptance and trusting surrender to the loving Person of God who has revealed Himself in His Son Jesus Christ. That is why each one of us would say: “I believe,” because it demands a personal disposition of faith.

Second, faith is reasonable. We know the reasons why we have this faith which is based on Holy Scriptures and Church Traditions. St. Peter, in his first letter, said: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,” (3:15).

Third, faith is to be committed. There is no turning back and leaving God behind. Like for example, we should not say: “I will not attend mass today because it’s raining.” Actually, there is no commitment in this kind of attitude.

Fourth, faith is living and dynamic. It is dynamic in the sense that it integrates our minds (convictions), our hand and will (committed action) and our hearts (trust). Christian faith is not fragmented as it links in what we believe and how we practice what we believe in (The Ten Commandments) sustained by our life of community worship through the sacraments and prayers, (from Catechism for Filipino Catholics no. 141).

Fifth, faith is apostolic or missionary. Once we have this faith and experienced it, we share it with one another. This faith should not be hidden. It is like a lamp puts on a lamp stand in order to give light to those who may enter the house.

What supposed to be our attitudes as Christian towards faith in God? Does it mean going to Mass every Sunday? Does it mean praying or having statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints in our house? Does it mean sharing one faith, one baptism and one Lord? Does it mean knowing the Apostles’ Creed, believing the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and believing too in the Trinitarian God? But, more than these. Christians should not be known only by their attitude towards their faith but most especially on how they act upon this faith through loving.

Catechism made mentioned also about the three dimensions of faith as: faith as believing, faith as trusting and faith as obeying/doing. I don’t know if this is a coincidence that when we make the sign of the cross, we touch our forehead when we say, ‘in the name of the Father,’ it is because we know something about our God that is why we believe in Him. We know Him, even in a very limited way, by reading our Bible, listening to homilies, knowing the doctrines and dogmas of our Catholic faith, when we read spiritual writing and many more.

When we say, ‘and of the Son,’ we touch our hearts because we trust in Him. Prayer is showing our trust in Him. Worship is another thing that we show our trust in God. Worship brings pleasure to God because prophet Jeremiah says: “The Lord is pleased only with those who worship him and trust in his love,” (1:5). Anything that we do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship. But worship is not for our benefit. I heard from some parishioners saying, after they had attended Mass, they got nothing out of it. The choir is not good, the sound system is not good, the priest is boring and so on and so forth. We worship for God’s benefit. We worship not to please ourselves but to please God.

If this is the case, then, what belongs to us? If you can still remember when the seventy two disciples return from their mission they rejoiced of their success. But Jesus said to them; they should not rejoice because of their success but they should rejoice because their names are written in heaven, (Luke 10:17-20). This is what we can have and this is what is most important.

We are created, saved, called and commanded to serve God. We are put on earth to make a contribution. We are not created by God just to consume resources like: to eat, to breathe and to take up space. God made us to make a difference with our life. We are created to add life on earth and not just take from it. God wants us to give something back.

We are created to serve God. We are created for a life of good deeds which He has already prepared for us to do (Eph 2:10b). These good deeds are our service. Whenever we serve others in any way, we are actually serving God (Matt 25:34-45).

We are saved for service. We serve God out of deep gratitude for what he has done for us. We owe him our lives. Through salvation our past has been forgiven, our present is given meaning and our future is secured. If we have no love and desire to serve others then we have to ask if Christ is really in our hearts. A saved heart is one that wants to serve.

Once we are saved, God intends to use us for His goals. God has a ministry for you/for us in His church and a mission for us in the world.

We are called to serve God. God called not only clergy, pastors and religious, every Christian is called to serve (Eph 4:4-14). Regardless of your job or career, we are called to fulfill Christian service. If we are using our God-given abilities to help others, we are fulfilling our calling.

We are commanded to serve God. Jesus says: “Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the messiah, did not come to be served but to serve and to give my life…(Matt 20:28). Jesus came to “serve” and to “give” and these two verbs should define our life on earth too.

Therefore when we make the Sign of the Cross, we say: “I believe,” by touching our head; “I trust,” by touching our hearts; and “I serve,” by touching our two shoulders.

May the Lord increase our faith especially in difficult situations.