Faith. We often talk about faith and yet sometimes we question ourselves if we even have any faith. This weekend’s readings from Sacred Scripture offer us an opportunity to meditate more deeply on what it means to have faith and how it should shape our lives as Christians.
Perhaps we feel like Habakkuk from our First Reading. He prays to God saying, “How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not intervene.” Perhaps in our own prayer, we make the same request as the apostles did to Jesus: “Increase our faith.” What are we supposed to do?
The answer lies in the Lord’s response to both Habakkuk and to the apostles. The Lord says to Habakkuk: 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. In other words, God says wait. He says wait and have faith. We don’t always like this answer. God’s answer is to wait; that by delaying, our faith is developed. Faith then involves patience. Yes, God hears our cry but He also knows how to develop our faith through patient endurance.
The meaning of this weekend’s parable of the unprofitable servants is that because of our relationship with God, we are not owed anything; we have not earned anything. Rather, we were simply doing our duty as Christians and so should think of ourselves as unprofitable servants of the Master—that is, of God. Why does Jesus connect this parable with faith? It is because it warns the disciples against supposing that faith, and the obedient service of the Lord in which faith is expressed, establishes a claim for reward. When you have done all that is commanded you, say “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.”
Be encouraged, therefore, by the words of St. Augustine: “We must believe, then, in order to pray; and we must ask God that the faith enabling us to pray may not fail. Faith gives rise to prayer, and this prayer obtains an increase of faith. Faith gives rise to prayer, and is in turn strengthened by prayer.”