27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
October 02, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.





Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First 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  Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Second Reading  2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14

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.

Acclamation before the Gospel  1 Pt 1:25

Gospel  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.’”

Reflection Questions

Why do you think God lets us see ruin and look at misery?

How do you bear your share of hardship for the gospel?

How would you like to see you faith increase?

Catena Nova
A mustard seed is small in size but its energy thrusts it upwards with the force of fire.  Small are its roots, great the spread of its boughs and once it is fully grown the birds of the air find shelter in its branches (Mt 13:32).  So too, in a flash, faith can produce the most wonderful effects in the soul. Enlightened by faith the soul gazes at the glory of God so far as human nature allows and, even before the consummation of all things, ranging beyond the boundaries of the universe, it has a vision of the judgement and of God making good the rewards he promised.   As far as it depends on you then, cherish this gift of faith that leads you to God and you will then receive the higher gift which no effort of yours can reach, no power of yours attain. (St Cyril of Jerusalem)

It is up to us to sow this mustard seed in our minds and let it grow within us into a great tree of understanding reaching up to Heaven and elevating all our faculties; then it will spread out branches of knowledge, the pungent savor of its fruit will make our mouths burn, its fiery kernel will kindle a blaze within us, enflaming our hearts and the taste of it, will dispel our unenlightened repugnance. Yes, it is true: a mustard seed is indeed an image of the Kingdom of God…. The Man Christ received the mustard seed, which represents the Kingdom of God; as Man He received it, though as God He had always possessed it. He sowed it in His Garden, that is in His Bride, the Church…. Such then is the mustard seed which Christ sowed in His Garden. (St. Peter Chrysologus)

The Word of God is like a grain of mustard seed, before cultivation it looks extremely small. But when it is cultivated in the right way, it grows so large, that the highest principles of both sensible and intelligible creation, come like birds to revive themselves in it. For the principles – or inner essences of all things, are embraced by the Word but the Word is not embraced by anything. Hence, the Lord has said, that whoever has faith like a grain of mustard seed, can move a mountain by a word of command (cf. Mt 17:20), that is, he can destroy the devil’s dominion over us and remove it from its foundation. The grain of mustard seed is the Lord, who by faith is sown spiritually in the hearts of those who accept Him.… Those who seek the Lord should not look for Him outside themselves. On the contrary, they must seek Him, within themselves, through faith made manifest in action. (St. Maximus the Confessor)

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. (St. Teresa of Avila)
Faith and love are like the blind person’s guides. They will lead you along a path unknown to you, to the place where God is hidden. Faith, the secret we mentioned, is comparable to the feet by which one journeys to God, and love is like one's guide. In dealing with these mysteries and secrets of faith, the soul will merit through love the discovery of the content of faith, that is, the Bridegroom Whom she desires to possess in this life through the special grace of divine union with God, as we said, and in the next through the essential glory, by which she will rejoice in Him not in a hidden way, but face to face. [1 Cor. 13:12]. (St. John of the Cross)

And like the little grain of mustard seed …we should set it in the garden of our soul, all weeds being pulled out for the better feeding of our faith. Then shall it grow and through the true belief of God’s word … we shall be well able to command a great mountain of tribulation to void from the place where it stood in our hearts, whereas with a very feeble faith and faint, we shall scarcely be able to remove a little hillock. (St. Thomas More)

The life of faith is the untiring pursuit of God through all that disguises and disfigures him and, as it were, destroys and annihilates him. (Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade)

When I was growing up, we had a mulberry tree on the edge of our property. The berries were a nice treat but they also stained the driveway a deep purple. Mulberry trees also have complex root systems that spread out a large distance just under the surface and they also send sinker roots deep into the soil. This may be one of the reasons my father used a tree removal service rather than faith to move the tree off from the property. We can see the mulberry tree as an image of the intractability of the occasions for stumbling that we encounter on a daily basis. The image also stands for the tangle of our anger and frustration over being asked to forgive those who keep making us stumble over and over again. The close coupling of Jesus’ admonitions here suggests that all of us cause others to stumble about as much as we have occasion to forgive others for making us stumble. Faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to pull us out this tangle of scandal and stumbling and yet we have trouble having as much faith as that! (Abbot Andrew Marr)


“To Hell with It?”
Every Sunday in October a census is taken in Catholic churches throughout the country to count the number of people who attend Mass.  While such statistics do not tell the whole story of “faith” in the United States, the local diocesan paper reported recently that a voluntary collaboration of seven suburban parishes has been formed for the purpose of “maintaining vibrancy” in the face-off declining numbers of both priests and parishioners: “Combined attendance at the seven churches dropped by 62 percent between 2011 and 2021…with decreases at individual parishes ranging from 45 percent to 71 percent. The coronavirus pandemic…has accelerated this trend: Sunday Mass attendance in the planning group was 37 percent lower in 2021 than the weekly total…just two years earlier”  (Catholic Courier online ; September 7, 2022).  The Pew Research Center reported the same week that, “If recent trends in religious switching continue, Christians could make up less than half of the U.S. population within a few decades” (“Modeling the Future of Religion in America”; September 13, 2022). 
Then there’s the American bishops’ three-year “Eucharistic Revival” meant to address not only the decline in attendance, but also a perceived loss of Eucharistic faith.  A widely-reported 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center found that only a third of Catholics give linguistic assent to belief in the Real Presence Christ in the sacrament.  This was in response to the statement, “During the Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”  Even among regular practitioners just shy of two-thirds answered in the affirmative with 7 in 10 respondents holding the view that the bread wine “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”  Perhaps even more alarming was the number of Catholics who were simply unaware of what the church actually teaches (cf. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/05/transubstantiation-eucharist-u-s-catholics/.
Everyone knows, of course, how scandals, secularization and sickness have all contributed to  this steady decline.  But then a conversation I had recently with a close friend should, I think, also factor into any assessment of the reasons.  He is a man in his late 50’s, a budding religious poet, a St. Augustine enthusiast, devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and who watches a daily Mass online — but has yet to return to in-person worship.  The reason?  None of those stated above; rather, it’s because he does not want to be, in his words, merely a “registered parishioner who gets envelopes.”  Which is to say, a statistic — and institutional disaffection on this account ought never be underestimated — nor should it be chalked up to a “loss of faith.”
I am reminded here of something Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor once quipped in a collection of her letters entitled The Habit of Being. In a memoir of an encounter with another Catholic literary figure in which they expressed disagreement over the Eucharist, much like what the Pew Center uncovered, O’Connor recalled
toward morning the conversation [among a number of literary figures at the gathering] turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. [Mary McCarthy] said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the ‘most portable’ person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, ‘Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.’ That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.

           Please note this exchange took place sometime in the late 40s or early 50s.  So the facile blame-game “traditionalists” often play who oppose the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council doesn’t convince me of much.  Nor does the “progressive” call for yet more experimentation so often accompanied by a shocking nonchalance many find irreverent and distracting. 

          Nevertheless, Paul’s admonition to Timothy is timely in this regard: Guard this rich trust [of faith and love] with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us (II).  Nor should we ever minimize the constant need we have, as did the apostles, to increase our faith (G).  One might even think our Lord’s words have a special reference to declining Mass attendance. We are here, after all, to wait upon the Lord at his Table and lest we think we are doing him the favor, best we hear him tell us,  Is [the master] 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'" (G).

          And so I must agree with Flannery O’Connor over Mary McCarthy.  If indeed the Eucharist is ever to be “the center of existence for me; [such that] all the rest of life is expendable,” then those little mustard seeds of doubt, apathy, and scandal will have to find a way to become mulberry trees capable of housing a robust faith, passion, and forbearance.  Unless that happens, we are likely to live for some time in a period of decline -- a Diaspora -- something like the prophet Habakkuk who foresaw Babylon's rise to power and the impending Exile of the Jews.  Yet never without hope 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 (I).



For God’s your holy church in every place and for those who serve following the example of Christ. May they live by faith and walk by the light of the gospel.

For all who are distressed or suffering in body, mind, and spirit:, especially those impacted by Hurricane Ian, that our prayer for them may be strong and effective, moving mountains of pain and bringing healing and joy.

For peace in the midst of violence and tragedy in this world. May we have the patience to be understanding, the strength to be forgiving and the grace to admit when we are wrong.
For sincere actions to address the historical and present-day injustices facing the Indigenous peoples of this country, and for the courage to walk together in a spirit of truth, justice, healing, and reconciliation.

That as this year’s season of creation draws to a close governments, farming, industry and business will play their part in working together to face the damage of climate change.

That the war against Ukraine will to come to an end; that the oppression of women in Iran ceases; and that the rightful education of girls and women in Afghanistan is restored.

That the upright who lived lives of faithful service will enter into heavenly glory.

God, the rock of our salvation,
whose gifts can never fail,
deepen the faith you have already bestowed
and let its power be seen in your servants.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Hymn  (Orlando Gibbons)
O Lord, increase my faith
strengthen me 
and confirm me in thy true faith,
endue me with wisdom,
charity, chastity and patience
in all my adversity.
Sweet Jesus, say Amen.
Communion Antiphon

Closing Hymn
How long, O Lord? I cry for help
And then your answer firm you give:
“Though I delay, I’ll not be late;
The just ones, through their faith, shall live!”
“Increase our faith,” th’ apostles asked,
When Jesus said (to their surprise),
“Though tiny as the mustard seed,
Faith’s power reaches to the skies.”
Stir into flame the gift of God
That makes us loving, wise, and strong;
Guard faith’s deposit by God’s grace
With Spirit’s help our whole lives long!