27th Sunday Ordinary
The Prophet Habakkuk cries out, “How long, O Lord?” He prophesized in the 6th century BCE, in a time of great up-evil in his country: war, poverty destruction, one might say, total chaos. Here we are about 2,600 years later and do you ever ask yourself the same question, how long O Lord will we have to endure the violence in our country, wars that never end, poverty that grows ever more prevalent, the disparity of wealth between the super-rich and the working poor and the poverty stricken people? Is there no justice? How long O Lord, How long?”
We live in a culture of violence that borders on survival of the fittest, as our ancestors did centuries ago. Our cities are plagued with gang warfare, mass killings of innocent people that continue to escalate as we have seen in the two acts of violence in DC this week, that left several people dead and many injured. We have become so accustomed to hearing this sad state of affairs, have we given up any hope for a better, safer, more just society emerging from what has become a culture of man’s inhumanity to man?
There is a way out of this chaos of self-destruction. Habakkuk’s vision is one of a brighter future, but it is still a long way off. The people haven’t yet learned to put their trust in God and not power. They end up as slaves in Babylon. It is only there, in complete misery that they finally hear the prophet and begin to change their violent ways. When they return to Yahweh they will be released from their captivity and return to their homeland.
However, all this can only happen when and if the people turn their hearts back to Yahweh. When they turn away from power structures that cannot save; turn back to putting total trust in God, who has the power to restore them to their homeland where they will enjoy peace, tranquility and prosperity.
There is the catch however; will they turn away from the power structures of this world and put their total trust in God? This is the question that is put forth in the gospel today from Luke that continues to apply to you and me. Are we willing to work to change the structures of society that perpetuates war and not peace; growing poverty or lack of better education for all, jobs that pay a fair living wage to help our poor sisters and brothers to lift themselves up out of poverty and lives of despair? Are we willing to take Jesus’ command to build his kingdom into one of justice, equality and fairness for all people, where the wealth of the earth is shared more equally among all peoples?
We are called through our baptism to be disciples for Christ. Discipleship is not about ruling or domination; it is however, about humble service as our gospel tells us. There is a necessary quality to being a devoted follower of Christ – FAITH. It is not about how much you believe or the many questions you have but THAT you believe. Our faith is not to remain stagnant that grows stale like moldy bread; faith is to be dynamic, drawing others in because they see a life lived in Jesus is a life filled with meaning, purpose, and value. A disciple gives hope to those around them in spite of their daily hardships.
This week Pope Francis’ message calls for all of us, the church from the Vatican to the world to become a more open minded church where all are invited to feast at the table of the Lord. I quote, “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and their loss of hope.” Vatican II changed the focus of the church; from a Vatican papal, curia; what he calls a “Vatican-centric” top down dictatorship to one that sees these offices as having an indispensable role in serving the people of God.
Pope Francis is clear that he intends to follow in the footprints of Vatican II and that he does not share this past view of his role as pope and vows to lead the church – the people of God into a more people centered view that reaches beyond the walls of Vatican City, out to all the world. Quote, A poorer church, a humbler church, a missionary church that reaches out to all God’s children without judgment focusing on the needs of the person above all else….be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor, we need to include the excluded and preach peace.”
Our readings and our Pope challenge us to give witness in a secular culture of violence and destruction of human life by being Christ’s disciples, examples of a culture of life – that respects the dignity of every human being, for we all share in this one humanity.
I leave you with this question, how does your discipleship affect your personal and our national crises? Find 3 things this week that you can do to strengthen your discipleship. AMEN.