Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Twenty-seventh Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC

Sunday of the 27 OTC

 

Readings: Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4; 2 Tim 1:6-8, 13-14; Lk 17:5-10.

 

1/ Reading I: RSV Habakkuk 1:2 O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and thou wilt not hear? Or cry to thee "Violence!" and thou wilt not save? 3 Why dost thou make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. RSV Habakkuk 2:2 And the LORD answered me: "Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end -- it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. 4 Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”

 

2/ Reading II: RSV 2 Timothy 1:6 Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. 8 Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God, 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; 14 guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

 

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" 6 And the Lord said, "If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. 7 "Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, `Come at once and sit down at table'? 8 Will he not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink'? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"


I. THEME: Be patient and faithful to walk according to God’s way.

 

            When people witness injustice or accidents that happen to the innocent, they used to put out questions which doubt God’s love and power. For examples, in the event of July 11 in New York, the hurricane Katrina in Louisiana or the Haiti’s earthquake, many people asked the two questions: First, If God is powerful; He must prevent these things to happen; if He can’t, He has no power. Secondly, if He has power and didn’t prevent, He isn’t a merciful God. Both these two reasons are the cause for them not to believe in God.

            Today readings concentrate on the three attitudes that threaten the believers’ faith and the necessary advises to overcome it. In the first reading, the author displays the human impatience in God. When the prophet Habakkuk witnessed the injustice happened to the good people, he questioned why God doesn’t use His power to destroy the wicked! God answered him that thing shall certainly happen; the people’s duty is to be patient and waited with perseverance. God has His time; people have no right to tell God to do it right away. In the second reading, Paul advised Timothy, his beloved disciple, to be patient in suffering for the sake of the Gospel; because he is prepared by God to do as such. When people lose their patience, they shall not faithfully do God’s will, they shall solve problems according to their way, and they shall have to suffer the terrible results forever. In the Gospel, Jesus advised his disciples to know themselves and God so that they should not challenge Him, such as: If they do this, then God has to reward them with that. They should know that all is God’s grace; when people do everything according to their duty, they are still the servants who are supposed to do their given duty.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The righteous shall live by their faith.

1.1/ Why dost thou make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? The prophet Habakkuk might be contemporary with the prophet Nahum, about 640-598 BC, when the Israelites were on their exile in Assyria. We know the reasons for the Northern Kingdom was destroyed and all peoples were on exile are their betrayal of God and chasing after foreign gods as the prophets Hosea accused and their unjust treatment of the poor as the prophet Amos accused.

            The prophet Habakkuk lost his patience when he saw that the Assyrians are more sinful than the Israelites; why God let such wicked people trampled His people at will and he put out his question with God, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and thou wilt not hear? Or cry to thee "Violence!" and thou wilt not save? Why dost thou make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is slacked and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous, so justice goes forth perverted” (Hab 1:2-4).

 

1.2/ “Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith."

            Habakkuk, as also Job, didn’t understand why God let the wicked surround the more righteous than them; so he said to himself, “Thou who art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on wrong, why dost thou look on faithless men, and art silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Hab 1:13).

            And God answered and said to him, “Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end -- it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.”

            God has His plan and time; He needs no one to be His counselor. He can use the wicked Assyrians as the stick to punish the Israelites; and He can use other enemy to punish the one who held the stick, as He shall use the Babylonians to punish Assyrians. The sinful people, as the Israelites, have no right to question God; but must be patient in faith to wait for the day that God shall lift up their punishment. God said to Habakkuk, “Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith."

            Those who lose their patience shall be indignant with God and no longer walk according to His way; these people shall die in their sins and receive the punishment of sinners. Those who persevere in their suffering and determine to walk according to God’s way shall live and see God’s justice.

2/ Reading II: You should “share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God.”

2.1/ God equips people with all necessary things to live and to witness for the Gospel.

            God never demands people to do impossible things. When He wants people to do something, He shall give them enough grace to do it. In today passage, Paul reminds Timothy what God gives to him on the day he received the title “episcopos,” “Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”

            The Spirit of God gave Timothy the following graces through the laying of hand of Paul: First, the strength to live and to witness for the truth. Leading a religious community requires Timothy to have strength to live and to witness for the truth amidst countless threats of the devil’s and worldly powers. Secondly, love (agapê) which comes from God so that he is ready to sacrifice for the sheep he cares for. Lastly, is the virtue of temperate or self-discipline. This is the necessary virtue for all people, especially for leaders, because they must face many temptations and set good examples for the faithful.

            All these gifts are given to Timothy so that he could live and witness for the values of the Gospel. Paul advised to Timothy, “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner.”

           

2.2/ Suffering for the Gospel: When facing sufferings, people are easily to lose their patience and faith in God. Paul also reminded Timothy the two reasons why he must be patient and faithful to the Gospel:

            (1) The center of the Gospel is Christ. He died, resurrected and appeared to Paul on the way to Damascus, and he shall come again on the Last Day. Since Christ is resurrected, the salvation shall surely be given to those who put their trust in him. Paul confirmed this point, “Share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God. Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

            (2) Christ is still acting in the preacher through the Holy Spirit: Paul commanded Timothy, “Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” Although Christ no longer act publicly, but he still unites with his disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit. The preacher’s duty is to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and be loyal with the Gospel which he received.

 

3/ Gospel: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.”

3.1/ We have only done what was our duty: In order to understand Jesus’ parable, we need to differentiate the two acts:

            (1) The duty which one must do: The servant’s duty is to serve his master, regardless of how many works he must do. Jesus cited a real story so that his disciples might always recognize their role in the relationship with God. He said, “Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, `Come at once and sit down at table'? Will he not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink'?” The master, of course, shall act according to the latter. He acts without regretful because the servant is his; moreover, he also doesn’t think about gratitude because that is what a servant must do.

            (2) The voluntary work: If a person isn’t a servant, but volunteers to serve others; that is the voluntary work. Those who are served must be gratitude to those who help them.

            Similarly, people have a duty to serve God because He creates people. Moreover, God also invests in people all necessary things so that they shall benefit him, such as: grace, time, health and talent. When people try their best to bear a corresponding profit for God, they only complete their duty or justice, because when they borrow money, they must return both the principal and the profit. Since all things in this world belong to God, He doesn’t need to thank people as Jesus said today, “So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"

            However, if God shows His mercy and nicely treats people as in Luke’s other report, “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them” (Lk 12:37). The reason why God does this is because He is so generous and love people. This is the important point which people should ascertain so that they should never force God to do his will, to grant their petition; if not, they shall no longer worship God.

 

3.2/ People need to have a strong faith: People’s faith is weak and easy to be shaken by temptations of the devil, the world and their own flesh. The important thing which people should know is to recognize their weakness and to pray as the disciples asked Jesus today, “Lord! Increase our faith.” Moreover, besides prayers, people must practice their faith by persevering in suffering; if not, their faith shall gradually disappear.

            A strong faith shall help people to overcome all obstacles in their life to be faithful to God. Jesus confirmed his disciples, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We need to recognize that we are only God’s lowly creatures. Never try to be God’s counselor, or suggest God to do thing according to our lowly will.

            - Our duty is to humbly do things according to God’s will, be loyal in our vocation and patiently wait for God’s time to come. If we rashly act and are unfaithful to God, we shall receive all bad results for our family and ourselves.

            - When we are tempted to blame on God, to doubt Him, or on the verge of losing our faith, we should pray to God as Jesus’ disciples, “Master, increase our faith.”

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