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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
1st Reading (Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4): 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. Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.
Responsorial Psalm: 94
R/. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice: «Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works».
2nd Reading (2Tim 1:6-8.13-14): Beloved: I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. 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.
Versicle before the Gospel (1Pt 1:25): Alleluia. The word of the Lord remains forever. This is the word that has been proclaimed to you. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 17:5-10): The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." The Lord replied, "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.

"Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here immediately and take your place at table'? Would he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished'? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'"

“We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do”

Fr. Josep VALL i Mundó (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Christ's message is once more about service. The Gospel is always insisting upon the spirit of service. And it helps to see how the Word of God Incarnate —Yahweh's, Isaiah's servant— “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” (Phil 2:7). Christ also said: “I am among you as the one who serves” (Lk 22:27), “as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28). Jesus' example was clearly apparent when He washed his disciples' feet, thus accomplishing a servant's task. With that gesture He wanted to make quite evident that His followers were to serve, help and love each other, as brothers and servants to all, just as He proposes in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

We have to live all our Christian life with that sense of service and without believing we are doing anything extraordinary. All our family, professional and social life —in the political, economic world, etc. — has to be imbued with this spirit. “If you want to be useful, serve”, asserted St. Josemaría Escrivá; he wanted us to understand that “to be useful” we have to live a life of generous service without seeking honors, human glory or applause.

In the old days it was usual to call the “nolentes quaerimus”—“amongst our rulers let us look for those who do not desire power; those who do not want to show off”— when it was time to nominate someone for the Hierarchy. To this day, this must be the purpose of the good pastors, ready to serve the Church, as the Church wants to be served: to assume the condition of servants as Christ did. Let us remember the well-known words by St. Augustine stating how the ecclesial function has to be exerted: “Non tam praeesse quam prodesse”: “It not so much to dominate as to be of use; not for one's own prestige but for the utility of others”.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • "The Lord compares the perfect faith with the mustard seed because in its appearance it is humble, but burning inside" (St. Bede the Venerable)

  • "Those who are firmly founded on faith, who trust totally in God and who live in the Church are capable of conveying the devastating power of the Gospel" (Benedict XVI)

  • "Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth..." (Faustus of Riez) Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 169)