Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
2) 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14
Gospel: Lk 17:5-10
St. Paul was a prisoner for the Gospel who willingly endured humiliation and hardship out of love for Jesus Christ. His example begins a long stream of courageous disciples of Jesus who have endured imprisonment and martyrdom up and down the centuries. Their courage continues in our own time in the bold witness of many modern-day Christians.
Take the example of Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek, an American priest who went to Russia as a missionary in the mid-20th century. He began his ministry in Poland just as World War II began and as the war unfolded he entered Russia, even as many were fleeing the country.
There he began, in secret, his priestly ministry of hearing confessions, conducting retreats and engaging in parish ministry, all of which were illegal and dangerous. He was arrested on false charges of espionage and spent more than 20 years in prison and hard labor in the gulag.
Like St. Paul and countless persecuted Christians, the hardships of imprisonment, torture and hard labor did not stop Father Ciszek from continuing his priestly ministry.
In his memoir, titled “He Leadeth Me,” Father Ciszek writes: “His will for us was in the twenty-four hours of each day: the people, the places, the circumstances He set before us in that time. Those were the things God knew were important to Him and to us at that moment, and those were the things upon which He wanted us to act.”
The prophet Habakkuk tells us that faith in God opens our life to new graces. Our spiritual renewal deepens as we grow in faith in God’s providential care for us. In the face of many injustices all around them, Habakkuk reminds the people that God is just and those who live by faith will know God’s blessings, for “the just one, because of his faith, shall live.”
Faith is a gift of God. And our response to God’s love in the act of faith is a work of the Holy Spirit leading us to friendship with God, who is the origin and destiny of our life.
St. Paul reminds us that this gift of faith is to be deepened constantly so that it burns like a bright flame. So, Paul writes, “I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.”
One way we continue to stir into flame the gift of faith is by remaining close to the word of God. Paul encourages us to “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.”
In the Gospel, the apostles make a simple and profound request when they say to Jesus, “Increase our faith.” The desire for God is written by God on each human heart.
Our hearts are restless because only God fully satisfies the longings of our heart. Jesus’ response reminds us to strive to grow in faith daily as we pray, “speak to me, Lord.”
How do you strive to increase your faith each day?
Sullivan is a professor at The Catholic University of America.