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Homily for twenty seventh Sunday C

30 Sep 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Prayer for helpNo doubt, our world is becoming so unsafe for man; from one part of the world to the other, the echoes of war hit the airwaves. National and international media houses open and close daily with news of bombings, destructions, political tension, and all forms of violence threatening the peace of the world. In my dear Country, Kidnapping and armed robbery are becoming the order of the day, and security of life and properties has become a thing of the past. There is diminishing confidence in our political and religious leaders, and many Christians are questioning their faith.

In a similar situation, the prophet Habakkuk found himself; he lived Six hundred years before the coming of Christ in the flesh. He lived when the Babylonians had taken over and held the people of God in captivity. The captors destroyed the temple of God and desecrated the land. The righteous were treated as unrighteous by the ‘unrighteous.’ The land was filled with violence despite Habakkuk’s prayers for help, which provoked him to ask God questions: How long, Lord, am I to cry for use while you will not listen; to call ‘Oppression!’ in your ear and you will not save? Why do you set injustice before me? Why do you look at where there is tyranny?

These are not different from the questions many Christians ask today; where is God? Why is he silent? Does he not answer prayers anymore?

I stand here this morning to testify that God is alive and he sees all things. He said to Habakkuk, and he says to us this moment not to give up on his power to save even if it comes slowly, for sure it will come. It takes faith to wait, and this faith is the most significant force in the world. It is stronger than the power of violence and all other hostile forces globally; it is by it we do the impossible.

In our gospel passage this morning from Luke 17:5-10, the apostles had to ask Jesus to increase their faith. They needed it to do what they felt was impossible, for Jesus had just told them to learn to forgive even if they have to do it seven times or more a day. The apostles responded by asking for an increment in faith; they needed it to enable them to face the challenges of loving even when it’s not comfortable humanly speaking.

As people of God, we need faith to journey through this world, to resist the temptation of asking the whereabouts of God like people of no confidence. We need faith to continue to hold onto our Christian values in a world where violence, hardship, insecurity of life, and properties are pressurizing us to doubt the potency of God. We need faith to resist every tempting offer of the devil and never forget that all that glitters are not gold. Our faith in God must not grow dim, instead, let it shine to brighten our world darkened by doubt and fear of the unknown.

St. Paul reminds us this morning to fan our faith in Christ Jesus into flames, for it was a living faith of the people of Israel that kept them strong even while they remained captives in the hands of the Babylonians until God’s appointed time to liberate them. God did not forget his people, and he will not forget us. He will surely come with his help as promised through the prophet Habakkuk; he says his vision does not deceive.

PrayerThe prophet Habakkuk’s cry was not a cry of hopelessness but a cry of faith and boldness. He did not cry to a God of impossibilities but a God of possibilities. Habakkuk did not doubt the power of God; he did not consider the Babylonians more powerful than the God of Israel. Our own ‘Babylonian captivities’ will end in liberation because the word of God does not deceive. It doesn’t matter the kind of captivity you are in now; it may be sickness, hunger, unforgiveness, prayerlessness,  addiction, and all other kinds of captivities. In all these, we are conquerors. l

Like the people of Israel, we, the new Israel, will walk out of our own captivity. So, like the prophet Habakkuk let us cry out with faith to the God of possibilities in the midst of our calamities, hardship, and frustrating moments.

Today, it is my prayer that we all may open up to the Holy Spirit to increase and strengthen our faith in Christ Jesus through whom we can do all things.