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สถิติเยี่ยมชม (เริ่ม 22-02-2012)

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2019-11-19 11:32

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27th Sunday of the Year
Hebrews 1:2–3, 2:2–4; 2 Timothy 1:6–8, 13–14; Luke 17:5–10


If you had faith
God and God’s power make all things possible to those
who believe.
Let’s play a game.
Suppose you got into a time machine
and traveled back into history to the year 1776.
Suppose you took with you
a copy of this morning’s daily newspaper.
Suppose that when you arrived back in 1776,
a couple of people took the newspaper
and tried to read it.
How much of it would they understand?

Most experts say
that they probably wouldn’t understand enough
to make sense of it.
It would be like reading a foreign language.
Consider just a few words
that people in 1776 would not understand:
automobile, airplane, astronaut,
expressway, supermarket, air conditioning,
stock market, baseball bat, surfboard,
radio, television, spaceship, moonwalk,
long-range nuclear missile.
Now, suppose the people asked you
what television is.
You’d say it’s a way of seeing something
as far away as China
while it’s actually happening in that country.
Suppose the people asked you
what a long-range nuclear missile is.
You’d say it’s a way of firing a huge bullet
in the United States and destroying
any city you wished in Russia.
Suppose the people asked you
what a moonwalk is.
You’d say it’s someone on earth
taking a spaceship to the moon
and walking on its surface.
What do you think the people would say to you?
If those people had any sense at all,
they’d say you were absolutely crazy.
You were out of your mind.
For anybody with any sense at all
knows that you can’t see something in China
while it’s happening
as you sit in your living room in New York.
Anybody with any sense at all
knows that a bullet fired in the United States,
no matter how big,
can’t wipe out the entire city of Moscow.
Anybody with any sense at all
knows you can’t fly like a bird to the moon
in a horse and buggy, get out,
walk around, and return to earth again.
The point of our game
is to show that what the people of one century
consider senseless and impossible
the people of another century
consider matter-of-fact and commonplace.
The point of the game
is to show that what the people of one century
never dreamed of
the people of another century
consider ordinary.
There’s an important lesson here.
If we approach life with the attitude
that something is possible,
we’ll probably accomplish it.
On the other hand,
if we approach life with the attitude
that something is impossible,
we’ll probably fail to accomplish it.
For the people of one century
are poor judges
of what is or is not possible in another century.
Let’s now
play another game.
Let’s suppose someone from the year 3000
arrived on the planet Earth today
in a time machine.
Suppose the person had a newspaper
that contained no stories
of violence, poverty, or wars between nations.
Suppose the paper contained only stories
of love, prosperity, peace, and friendship.
What would you say?
If you had any sense at all,
you’d say such a world was impossible.
You’d say such a world was totally unreal.
You’d say the newspaper
was filled with propaganda
to impress the people of the 20th century.
Why?
Because anybody with any sense knows
that where there are people
there will be violence and hostility.
Anybody with any sense knows
that where there are people
there will be rich people and poor people.
Anybody with any sense knows
that where there are nations
there will be violence and war.
There’s another
important lesson here.
If we approach life with the attitude
that peace on earth is impossible,
we’ll probably fail to achieve it.
If we approach life with the attitude
that, at heart, people are uncaring and selfish,
we’ll probably fail to achieve
a society that is caring and selfless.
If we approach life with the attitude
that nations are inherently violent and hostile,
we’ll probably fail to achieve world peace.
And that brings us
to the most important point of all.
Peace on earth is possible.
Love among people is possible.
Harmony among nations is possible.
And the reason these things are possible
is that Jesus came among us
and taught us how to live.
The reason they are possible
is that Jesus said they were possible.
That’s what he meant when he taught us
to pray in the Lord’s Prayer
“May your Kingdom come;
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The reason they are possible
is that Jesus died to make them possible.
The reason they are possible
is that Jesus rose to make them possible.
That’s what Jesus is trying to tell us
in today’s gospel.
“If you had faith as big as a mustard seed,
you could say to this mulberry tree,
‘Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself
in the sea!’ and it would obey you.”
The good news of today’s gospel
is that, through faith, the power of God
is at our disposal.
As a result, nothing is no longer impossible—
not even a world
in which there is no more war,
not even a world
in which there is no more poverty,
not even a world
in which there is no more hatred.
Remember!
What the people of one century
consider impossible
the people of another century
consider commonplace.
It’s just a matter of vision and faith.
It’s just a matter of believing Jesus
when he says:
“If you had faith as big as a mustard seed,
you could say to this mulberry tree,
‘Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself
in the sea!’ and it would obey you.”

27th Sunday of the Year
Hebrews 1:2–3, 2:2–4; 2 Timothy 1:6–8, 13–14; Luke 17:5–10
Faith darkness
Faith involves times of darkness, caused by human
nature, ourselves, or God.
Late one afternoon,
archaeologist Gene Savoy and a companion
became lost in a jungle in Peru.
A sickening feeling came over them.
They knew
that if they did not reach camp by sundown,
they would never reach it alive.
They began to run about feverishly,
searching for the trail
that brought them into the jungle.
Suddenly they realized
that this feverish running
was only making matters worse.
Then they stopped and stood perfectly still.
As they did,
a thought flashed through Savoy’s mind.
God is in the jungle; it is God’s house.
Gene had been introduced
to the beauties of nature
when he was a boy in Oregon.
His parents had taught him that God
created the universe, sustains it,
and resides in it.
Why had he closed his eyes to God’s presence
in the jungles of Peru?
Didn’t God create them, also?
Doesn’t God sustain them, also?
Doesn’t God reside in them, also?
Instantly,
Gene relaxed and put all his faith in God,
in whose house he was.
He said later,
“I looked up into the beautiful emerald world
of wild orchids, and fragrant blossoms
where hummingbirds hovered.
Yes, God was here, too.My heart quieted.’’
Then something within Gene seemed to say,
“Walk a few paces to the left.’’
He did. And there was the tiny trail!
Gene said later,
“I am proud of my archaeological discoveries.
But my greatest discovery, I believe,
was in recognizing God’s presence everywhere.’’
That story fits in beautifully
with today’s Scripture readings.
First, it illustrates Habakkuk’s words
in the first reading, when he says,
“The just man, because of his faith,
shall live.’’
And second, it illustrates
Jesus’ words in the gospel reading,
when he says,
“If you had faith as big as a mustard seed,
you could say to this mulberry tree,
‘Pull yourself up by the roots and plant
yourself in the sea!’ and it would obey you.”
This brings us to an important point
about faith.
It’s a point we tend to forget—
one that can cause us unnecessary worry.
The point is this:
Even the strongest faith in Jesus and God
tends to go in and out of focus.
What is clear to us one day
becomes cloudy the next.
Like the sun,
our faith sometimes goes behind a cloud
and disappears for a while.
We’ve all experienced this in our lives.
How do we explain it?
These times of darkness are usually caused
by one of three things:
human nature, ourselves, or God.
First,
they may be caused by our human nature,
which has “highs’’ and “lows.’’
In other words, our faith simply reflects
the natural highs and lows, or mood swings,
of everyday human life.
Commenting on these mood swings,
one writer says:
“On one day, life is beautiful. . . .
We appreciate everything and everyone. . . .
On such a day it is difficult to know
why we ever thought life was difficult.
On another day, however, nothing is right. . . .
It is a time
when we number more enemies than we have
and find fault with every friend.
On such a day, it is difficult to know
why we ever thought life was easy.’’
Anthony Padovano, Belief in Human Life
Our faith is like that.
It is subject to mood swings.
These mood swings simply go with the territory
of being human.
Second, the periods of faith darkness
may be caused by ourselves.
We can bring them on by neglecting our faith.
That is,
we can let our faith grow weak from sin
or from lack of spiritual nourishment.
In other words,
just as our body grows weak from abuse
or lack of physical nourishment,
so our soul grows weak from sin
and lack of spiritual nourishment.
Third and finally,
these periods of darkness may be caused by God.
That is, God allows them to happen
in order to strengthen and deepen our faith.
In other words,
God uses them to help us mature in our faith,
just as God helped Abraham mature in his faith.
Abraham was thrown into darkness
when God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac.
(Genesis 22:1–12)
Regardless of the cause
of these periods of darkness,
the agony they can produce is great.
In his novel The Devil’s Advocate,
Morris West describes the agony of a person
experiencing a long period of faith darkness.
The person says:
“I groped for God and could not find God.
I prayed to God . . . and God did not answer.
I wept at night for the loss of God. . . .
“Then one day, God was there again. . . .
I had a parent and God knew me. . . .
I had never understood till this moment
the meaning of the words ‘gift of faith.’ ’’
And so we come back to our original point.
At times in our lives,
our faith seems to go behind a cloud
for a while.
This creates a period of faith darkness.
Sometimes this darkness is simply a reflection
of our human nature,
which is subject to mood swings.
Sometimes it is caused by neglect of our faith:
either through sin
or lack of spiritual nourishment.
And sometimes it may be caused by God,
in the sense that God uses it
to strengthen and deepen our faith.
Our response to these periods of darkness,
therefore,
should be to accept them and to use them
in whatever way God seems to be indicating to us.
This is the message we can take home
from today’s readings.

27th Sunday of the Year
Habakkuk 1:2–3, 2:2–4; 2 Timothy 1:6–8, 13–14; Luke 17:5–10
Faith darkness
An opportunity that affords faith growth.
The apostles said . . .
“Make our faith greater.” Luke 17:5
It was the last day of school
and a high school teacher was
picking up books left behind.
One was open to this quote by novelist
Morris West.
The sanctions of being a man
are so horrendous, that it seems madness
to try to relate them
to any kind of a divine plan.
You are conceived without consent . . .
with your sentence [of death]
already written
in the palm of your helpless hand:
a cancer will eat your guts; . . .
a drunken fool with an automobile
will mow you down; . . .
the believers are the lucky ones. . . .
But belief is a gift. . . .
If you have not the gift—or you lose it—
you are thrust back on reason.
“Testimony of a 20th-Century Catholic” by Morris West,
America magazine (December 2, 1967)
In the margin of the page,
next to the quote,
a student had written
“How do we get the gift of faith?”
Iam sure millions of nonbelievers
have asked that same question
at one time or another in their lives.
But for most baptized Christians,
like the student, is is probably
the wrong question to ask.
The Christian’s problem
is usually the one alluded to by Jesus
in today’s Gospel reading.
The Christian’s problem
is not that we have not received
the gift of faith.
We have all received it in Baptism.
The Christian’s problem
is that the gift of faith in Baptism
comes to us,
so to speak, in seedling form.
And it is up to each of us to cultivate it,
so to speak,
by prayer and good works,
so that the sunshine of God’s grace
can grow it into a great tree.
But, I hear you say,
what about the person
who is not baptized and will probably
never be baptized?
Didn’t Saint Paul write to Timothy—
and I quote him:
Christ Jesus . . . gave himself
to redeem the whole human race.
That was the proof at the right time that God
wants everyone to be saved. 1 Timothy 2:5–6
What about the person who never was
and never will be baptized?
How will that person be saved?
The answer to that question
deserves much more attention
than we can give it now.
But the answer comes down to this:
God gives to each of us a conscience.
This great gift allows us to distinguish
between good and evil, right and wrong.
If someone,
through no fault of their own, was never
exposed properly to Jesus or his teachings
and, therefore, was never baptized,
they still have the gift of conscience.
And if they follow its dictates,
they have the necessities for salvation.
The important thing for them is to obey
the dictates of their conscience.
Cardinal Newman
says of conscience:
It witnesses to the unseen.
It is more than our own self. . . . We cannot
destroy it, we may refuse to use it,
but it remains. . . . Its very existence
throws us out of ourselves, to go seek him . . .
whose Voice it is. Apologia Pro Vita Sua
We might draw this parallel between
Baptism and our conscience.
Just as Baptism gives us a seedling—
or tiny plant—of faith, so conscience
is a seed, so to speak,
that can grow into salvation.
And as we just saw,
both the tiny seedling and the tiny seed
need to be cultivated
by prayer and good works—
if they are to grow and mature properly.
In both cases, the seedling and the seed
are gifts. And if they are cultivated,
they can mature, with the help
of God’s grace, into a mighty tree.
That brings us back to the story
of the student who wrote in the margin
of the book,“How do we get the gift of faith?”
In all probability, the student,
who was a baptized Christian,
had written the wrong question
in the margin of the book.
The student’s problem was probably the one
alluded to by Jesus at the end of today’s Gospel.
The student’s problem was one that occurs
from time to time in every Christian’s life.
It is this:
There are times when the flame
of faith flickers and seems to die.
And a period of darkness sets in.
Such periods of faith darkness
are usually linked to one of three things:
our human nature, God, or ourselves.
First, they may be linked
to our human nature.
We all experience mood swings.
They go with the territory
of being human.
On some days everything
is bright and sunny.
On other days everything
is dark and cloudy.
And so, the mood swings
of our faith often simply parallel
the mood swings of our nature.
Here we should hasten to mention
that in some people these mood swings
can be very high and very low
and can last for longer periods at a time.
Second, the darkness can be traceable
to God. In other words,
God allows the darkness to take place.
That is, God permits it
for our own spiritual growth
and our own spiritual good.
Our job is to open our hearts
to God’s grace so that this can happen.
Finally, these periods of darkness
may be caused by ourselves.
We can bring them on
by neglecting our faith.
That is, we can let them grow weak
from spiritual abuse
and lack of spiritual nourishment,
like prayer and sacrifice.
In other words, just as our body grows
weak from physical abuse, so our
soul grows weak from spiritual abuse.
Regardless of the reason
for these periods of faith darkness
that occur in life,
we should seize them as opportunities
to trust in God and open our hearts
to God’s grace.
In that spirit, let us close with these
words of Cardinal Newman,
written during a period of faith darkness:
Lead kindly, Light. . . . Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far
from home; . . . I do not ask to see
The distant scene;
one step [is] enough for me.