27th Sunday Year C
Theme of the week: Let us bear witnesses to Christ, and persevere through any hardships that might bring.
As Christians living in Western democracies, we live in challenging times. We live in a broken world of broken people – ourselves included. As Christians, we love everyone in spite of their brokenness; and importantly, acknowledge our own brokenness in humility. Jesus is the sure remedy to heal the world of its brokenness. As Christians, we are called to bear witness to Jesus’ power to heal. Part of this means standing up to all forms of immorality that plague our modern world – divorce, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, radical gender practices, and so on. For the first step to healing is to acknowledge and reject all forms immorality that plague our lives. Standing up for Christ in this way is not easy, and often brings us persecution and even alienation. In the face of such hardships, many Christians choose to stay silent instead.
The First Reading is set at the time when the Babylonians has conquered the Holy Land. Similar to our world today, the prophet Habakkuk complained bitterly of the oppression and tyranny committed by the Babylonians. God’s response to Habakkuk is to be patience, and promised a future where “the righteous live by their faith” (verse 2:4). Today, as we witness immorality and encounter personal trials, like Habakkuk, we often wonder where God is amidst the carnage. In response, God comforts us with his assurance of a promise. At that appointed time in the future, we would realise that the pains of the present are merely to emphasise the greatness of God’s salvation. So, all is not what it seems. With God’s deliverance in mind, let us persevere through the hardships that we face. As Jesus said when he heard of Lazarus’ illness in John 11:4, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory.” Praise be to God!
In the Second Reading, Paul was imprisoned for his faith. Writing as a prisoner, Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit that lives within us is a Spirit of power, love and self-discipline (verse 7). Underpinning the message of the First Reading, Paul drew strength from the Gospel and the power of God (verse and persevered in the face of great hardships. Calling upon the Holy Spirit to give him strength, Paul guarded his faith like treasures entrusted upon him (verse 14). Sanctified by the Holy Spirit, Paul willingly accepted his sufferings for the sake of Christ. He urges Timothy, and us as well, to heed his example and do the same. Like Paul, hardships await us when we bear witnesses to Christ. That is why many Christians choose to stay silent instead. Stay silent no more, Paul urges us. As the great Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
In the Gospel, Jesus uses the parable of the Unprofitable Servant to explain that in serving the Lord, in observing His Laws and accepting His Cross, we should adopt the attitude of the Unprofitable Servant and not expect anything in return. For “we have done only what we ought to have done” (verse 10). Thus, as hard as this might sound, while we bear witnesses to Christ, while we endure hardships as a result, while we persevere in these hardships and look forward to God’s deliverance; one thing is clear: deliverance is for God to deliver and not for us to demand. Instead, we place our trust in God, that ever faithful, God will in due course and in His time provide us with the most appropriate deliverance. In the midst of our hardship, it is important that we keep this in mind.
My dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Spirit walk with us as we go forth. Amen.