Habakkuk was a biblical prophet who lived about 600 BC. His writings in the bible consist of just three short chapters, written for the most part in poetic form. If you read his prophetic words, you would think he was describing our contemporary world.
For Habakkuk, the world was falling apart, going to pieces. He rightly foresaw that his nation of Israel was on the verge of utter defeat before the onslaught of the powerful Babylonian empire. And he couldn’t understand how God could allow that to happen to his own people.
So it’s the problem of faith that deeply troubles Habakkuk.
How long, O Lord? I cry for help
but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
But you do not intervene.
So how does Habakkuk meet the problem of believing in an all-powerful God in the face of approaching catastrophe?
In today’s gospel, Jesus responds to this challenge when he insists on the power of faith. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus claims that faith can move mountains. Luke’s image is just as striking to anyone who knows the colossal size of a mulberry tree which in those days was so common in the Mideastern environment.
In the second reading, Timothy encourages his audience to put all their confidence in this power of faith and trust. So the three readings this Sunday all fit together under that unifying theme of the power of faith. The outlier, if you will, is the rather obscure parable that is included in the gospel.
—Walter Modrys SJ
This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.
The New York Times article that Fr. Modrys references, Apocalypse, Now What? by Matthew Thompson, can be found here at nytimes.com.