My Homily – St. Stephansdom, Vienna Cathedral
I am a visitor of Vienna already for almost a month. One of the things I miss doing back home is driving. Here I am not permitted. So I end up being just a passenger. Being on the driver’s seat gives me a sense of autonomy and power. I am in control. I’m in command. I can direct myself and go wherever I want. I realize this experience of simply being a passenger is an experience of faith. I always want to control my life.
But faith is an act of surrendering. God is telling me: “Hey Randy, if you really believe, hand over the keys of your life to me! He invites me to relax; take a back seat and let Him lead. Let Him drive. Let Him take control!
My reaction is that of fear and sadness. I fear because I am afraid where God will lead me; where will He bring me? I may not be ready. I also feel sad because I feel surrendering is painful and requires a lot of self-denial. I have to give up my autonomy to direct my life just as I want.
And like the disciples in today’s Gospel (Luke 17:16-21), I need to pray: “Lord increase my faitha!” I am afraid to commit. I’m afraid to surrender. I’m afraid to completely trust in You!
The 1st Reading taken from the book of the prophet Habakkuk is a challenge to faith. The prophet complains: “How long Lord? I cry for help – you ignore. You don’t intervene. I see so much ruin, misery, violence, destruction and strife.”
And the Lord replies: “Don’t quit, Habakkuk! Don’t give up. Don’t you loose hope. Trust me, I am in command. I am in control.
Yet its so difficult to trust and believe in the midst of severe test, or feel the “absence of God” or experience His seeming “inaction.” When you see the good, the just, the honest suffering and in pain.
These are the times when we need to pray: Lord, increase our faith!
In 2006, a contemporary Christian Girl Band made up of 3 sisters known as the “Barlow Girl” released a song entitled: “I believe in love.” It’s chorus goes like this:
“I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.
And I believe in God even when He is silent.”
These lyrics are based on an inscription believed to be written by a Jewish refugee on a wall outside Cologne, Germany during World War II.
If in our life we feel pain. We feel crushed, feel cheated, feel discouraged. Don’t stop believing. Don’t praying: Lord, increase my faith.
I would like to end with a story. In a certain village there lived 3 men – Alex, Nilo and Ben. Alex was a blacksmith, a drunkard and a dishonest man. Nilo was a farmer, a God-fearing person and hard working. But he need anger management because he can’t control his temper and many times hurt his wife and children. Ben, however, was a lay minister, generous, prayerful and considered a holy man.
One day by a strange twist of fate the 3 of them became lepers. They had to leave their homes and live outside the village. At night they would gather together to pray for healing. After 3 weeks Alex the drunkard was healed. After one year, Nilo the farmer was cured. But what Nilo could not understand: why is been still a leper after 3 years? Perhaps his holiness if a sham. He is a fake holy man after all!
One night in a dream God explains to Nilo why.. Alex got well after 3 week because his faith is only up to 3 week. Yours can only last for a year. But Ben’s faith is total. Whether he is cured or not He trusts me. I am everything for him.
Nilo wakes up. He looks outside the window. As he gazes far outside the village, he still sees Ben praying. He has not stopped believing. He has not stop hoping. And Nilo kneels and prays deep in his heart: Lord, increase my faith!