The more we love the world, the more some conditions in our world can be disheartening and depressing. We might begin to doubt our faith, and ask where is God in this? Just watching the news on TV can lead us into asking the same questions Habakkuk put to God centuries ago:
How long, O LORD? I cry for help
but you do not listen.
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord. -Habakkuk 1:2-3
Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si’ also expresses his grave concern for the world: “The spiral of self-destruction engulfs us… I have attempted to take stock of our present situation pointing to the cracks in the planet that we inhabit, as well as to the profoundly human causes of environmental degradation.” (Laudato Si’ 163)
In the last two weeks we watched three very strong hurricanes, fueled by global warming, destroy ecosystems and human communities. The war in Ukraine continues to expose the hardships, horror, and (lately) the atrocities of war. People are killed because of the color of their sin, or their religion, or sexual orientation. Where do we get the courage to continue to witness suffering and be moved by it? We Passionists call this stance “standing at the foot of the Cross.”
Like the apostles in today’s Gospel reading, we may be asking Jesus to “Increase our faith”!
Today’s readings have some profound messages about the nature of faith:
When God answers Habakkuk, God tells him to “write the vision clearly” …”so that one can read it readily.” (Habakkuk 2:2) We need to articulate for our own times what it means to be faithful followers of Jesus AND find ways to share this vision with others.
St. Paul, knowing he will never leave his prison cell alive, writes to encourages his young protege Timothy: “Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.” (II Tim1:14) We do not stand at the foot of the Cross alone. Along with our companions in faith, we have the Holy Spirit in us and among us, with all the Gifts of the Spirit we have been promised: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe and respect for God.
And Jesus says to his apostles: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6) Mustard seeds are very tiny; the quality of faith is more important than the quantity. Our surrender to God’s will and God’s working in our lives makes all the difference.
We often are alone when we view TV news displaying all the world’s problems. Today’s readings tell us our faith in the face of suffering grows through our relationships in community: articulating and sharing the vision, living Spirit-filled lives with others, and surrendering and cooperating with God’s movement in our personal and community lives. We are so blessed to be part of all this in the Passionist family!!
Patty Gillis is a retired Pastoral Minister. She served on the Board of Directors at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit. She is currently a member of the Laudato Si Vision Fulfillment Team and the Passionist Solidarity Network.