Lord, Why Don’t You Listen?

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4

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. Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14

Beloved: I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.

Luke 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

“How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen!” (Habakkuk 1:2) The exasperating lamentation of Habakkuk, whose prophetic ministry was exercised during one of the most diffi-cult times in the history of Israel – the Babylonian invasion of Judah – will resonate with many of us who seek to exercise our own prophetic ministry of promoting love, truth, and life in a world intoxicated with hatred, lies, and the culture of death.

Unprovoked and indiscriminate mass shootings driven by hatred and misguided ideologies; gov-ernment leaders who lie through their teeth and lie some more when their falsehood is exposed, believing that repetition of lies is the mother of all truths; politicians who barter in their souls in exchange for keeping their seats in the legislature; news media that defend their own freedom of press but are quick to trample the Church’s freedom of religion when they disagree with the Church’s moral values, especially on the issues of abortion and sex – such is the state of intoxica-tion of the world today. Like the woman of Revelation 17, “the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth”, the world is “drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus” (Rev 17:5-6).

“How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen!” (Habakkuk 1:2) Like Habakkuk, we wonder why God does not address the cry of anguish from the depth of our much-tormented souls. What should we do when it seems God just doesn’t care? “Stir into flame”, St. Paul re-minds us in this Sunday’s 2nd reading (2 Tm 1:6). “[D]o not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord…but bear your share of hardship for the gospel”, he says (2 Tm 1:8).

“But why?! Why should we bear our share of hardship for the gospel when God Himself doesn’t seem to care?” Many of us will rise in protest upon hearing St. Paul’s advice.

Difficult times call for difficult measures. This is the time when our faith in God is really put to the test. We are the servant in today’s gospel who is given one difficult task after another by his master. If we truly believe that God exists; that He is our Creator and our Lord; that He is loving, just, and good; that He is almighty and remains in control in spite of all the difficulties that we are experiencing in the world today; we should continue to do what He commands us, and have the faith and humility to see ourselves as His “unprofitable servants [who] have done what we were obliged to do” in bearing our share of hardship for the gospel (Lk 17:10). Moreover, as pointed out by St. Paul, take his advice “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”, and do so not by our own effort but “with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us” (2 Tm 1:13-14).

Like Jesus, whose cry of anguish on the cross – “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Ps. 22:2/Mk 15:34) – ends in a profession of trust (see Ps. 22:23ff) because of God’s res-cue, i.e. his resurrection; we must remain steadfast in our determination to follow Christ and con-tinue to live radically in love and holiness in spite of “the abominations of the earth” (Rev 17:6). Yes, the challenges are formidable; the temptation to give up is getting harder and harder to re-sist. But Jesus assures us in this Sunday’s gospel that faith no bigger than “the size of a mustard seed” is enough to uproot and plant a mulberry tree in the sea (Lk 17:6). “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). By faith, “things not seen” – what we long for while living in hope – will be fully realized, including our eventual triumph over death, resurrection, and glorification as the children of God.

Posted: October 6, 2019

Edmond Lo

As a Catholic speaker, writer and RCIA Catechist, Edmond is very active in promoting and defending the Catholic faith. He has a MBA, a CPA-CMA, and a MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from U.T., St. Augustine's Seminary. Having worked many years as the CFO of a non-profit organization, he retired at 55 to follow his special vocation of evangelization. The activities he conducts include the CMCC Bible Study Program, the Catechism Revisited Program, the FLL Spiritual Formation Program, Living in the Holy Tradition, RCIA, family groups and retreats, etc. Edmond is a member of the FLL Core Team. He writes Sunday Mass reflections regularly for the weekly FLL NewSpiration. His personal blog: http://elodocuments.blogspot.com/

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