Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Homily, 27th Sunday C

Why do the Apostles cry out? Why are the Apostles praying: "Lord, increase our faith."

This is an odd way to start our Sunday Gospel, so we need to remember what caused the Apostles to pray with such urgency. Our Sunday Gospels have lately come from a section of Luke's Gospel about Jesus great journey to Jerusalem. Jesus deliberately sets off towards the place where He will suffer crucificxtion and death and then rise to life on the third day.

As Jesus goes on His way, we encounter some of the richest stories of Luke's Gospel. The rich man and Lazarus from last Sunday, the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, these are the most famous stories Jesus told. Throughout these stories and miracles the Apostles have not only seen the love of Jesus, they've seen the sadness of the human condition.

Separation, distress, greed, estrangement, and death. These are the wages of sin. These are the greatest challenges we encounter. In the face of these challenges, the Apostles cry: "Lord, increase our faith!"

The prophet Habakuk, in our first reading, experiences the same sad condition of our race. "O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and thou wilt not hear? Or cry to thee 'Violence!' and thou wilt not save? Why dost thou make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise." The prophet cries out from the depths of his heart, looking for the Lord's answer.

The Apostles have met the Lord's answer: Jesus the Christ. They beg for a greater trust in Him.

This Gospel is appropriate for today as we observe Respect Life Sunday throughout the United States. All around us we are confronted by the sad situation of sin and death. Our culture looks at the troubles, the difficulties of life and sees no solution but death. Our culture has lost hope in the face of difficulty. Our culture is a culture of death.

Consider the unexpectedly pregnant mother, overwhelmed by the prospect of raising a new life without assistance, when she chooses abortion she chooses death. She says that this life inside her and her own life have no hope but death.

Consider the forgotten man living in a nursing home, overwhelmed by the emptiness of his days, his strong hands now idle. He thinks that the world wants him dead and so he might as well accede. He believes that his life is useless, that he is already dead, he believes he has no hope.

Consider those who lost a loved one to violent crime, the absence of their son, their daughter is gapping, they see no easing, no relief, no peace except in the death of the murderer. They see no hope in life: theirs or the murderers, death seems like the only option.

In the face of these challenges we need to pray like the Apostles: "Lord, increase our faith." Notice that the Apostles do not pray only for themselves but for everyone. "Our faith." Not simply "my faith," but everyones, especially those who are overwhelmed by sin and death in our world. We need to pray and support those who feel that life offers not hope. We need to pray and support those who see life as burdensome: whether it is infant life, elderly life, or criminal life.

As we kneel and pray at this Eucharist, as we receive our Lord's Body and Blood, let our prayer be the Apostle's prayer. Not simply for ourselves but the whole world: "Lord, increase our faith."

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