Saturday 1 October 2022

Sunday, October 2, 2022 - The reward of the action must be in the doing of the action

To read the texts click on the texts: Hab 1:2-3, 2:2-4; 2 Tim 1:6-8, 13-14; Lk17:5-10

The attitude of realizing that one has always been given one’s due and that one has simply done what one has to do, is the attitude that Jesus is calling for in the Gospel text of today. Put in another way, it might read: “Let the reward of your action be in the doing of the action itself.” This is also the meaning of faith, as explicated both in the first reading of today and in the Gospel.

Faith is not measured quantitatively and thus, in answer to the disciples’ plea to increase their faith. Jesus does not say that he will. Rather, he asks them to have faith. There is no question of having too much or too little faith. There is no question of faith having to be increased once one has it. It is enough that one has faith. Then, even if is the size of a mustard seed, it is enough and more.

This is the kind of faith that God calls Habakkuk to in the first reading of today. In response to his cry for help and his allegation that God does not listen, God responds by assuring him that all that is to happen will happen in due time. All Habakkuk has to do is what is required of him and to wait for the appointed time. Even if what he prays for does not happen immediately, he is to wait for it with patience, because it will happen in God’s own time.

This is also the kind of faith the disciples are called to in the Gospel text of today. It is a faith which makes them act in such a manner where, even after they have done all that is required to be done, will make them realize that they have done only their duty and nothing more. Though with God all things are possible, it does not mean that all things are permissible or that things will be done as they require them.

The faith that Christians have received through Jesus Christ is a priceless gift of God and must be rekindled regularly, as Paul tells Timothy in the second reading of today. It is a faith that brings with it the power to believe in the most trying circumstances. It is not a faith that will balk at the slightest hint of trouble or flinch from danger. It is a faith that will persevere even when things do not go the way one wants. As a matter of fact, for the man / woman of faith, oftentimes things do not go the way they want. What sustains them is not that God grants them what they desire or wish, but their confidence in the knowledge that God always works for the good of every human being.

Many of us still think that we are doing God a favour when we are good. We consider being good a burden and hope to be rewarded because we were kind to people, or reached out to them, or were selfless in our dealings with them. However, the readings of today ask us to consider first, that being good is not a burden. Being good must be our natural way of life. And second, that the reward we receive is already in the grace that God gives us to be good and to do good.

In Jesus, God has already fulfilled all rewards and promises, the rewards and promises that unfold as we live out our lives. Though we are often caught up in violence and destruction, we must be courageous, because our lives give testimony to the faith in Christ Jesus to which we are committed. We may not see the tension and strife around us resolved immediately or as quickly as we want, but we cannot succumb to the cowardice of despair. With the help of God, faith the size of a mustard seed can uproot mighty trees, can turn violence into peace, and can reconcile those who are filled with enmity for one another.

If we cannot accept this, it might be because we really do not have the kind of faith that Jesus had and that he calls us to. Only total reliance on God, and unstinting commitment to the responsibilities of life, will guarantee us the blessings that God has promised. The kingdom of God is at hand. We can reach out and touch it. We can feel its nearness. We can participate in its fullness. If only we have the tiniest bit of faith, God’s Will, will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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