The prophet Habakkuk lived during the latter half of the 7th Century BC. During this period, the people of God were suffering the oppression of foreign and pagan rulers.
"The Oracles of Habakkuk address the painful issues of why God allows his people to suffer at the hand of pagan oppressors. The central question in Habakkuk's dialogue with God regards why, if God has special regard for his people and controls the course of human events, he uses pagan armies to carry out his chastisements of Israel. Why does God allow his people to suffer, whether the suffering is perpetrated upon them by other nations or is a consequence of their own sins?
Habakkuk's fundamental answer is that punishment will come upon all evil oppressors in time and that those who remain faithful and virtuous will find salvation."
In other words, if my suffering comes from the hand of others, I must do all in my power to remain faithful and virtuous. I cannot return evil for evil, if I do I only multiply evil by two. I cannot answer for what others might do to me, they will answer either to the law on earth or to God at their judgment, but I will answer for how I met the challenge and if I remained steadfast in the Lord. Often we are the cause of our own problems. Sometimes nature, through natural disasters or illness, cause our suffering. The point is, there will be suffering, but what do I do in the face of it?
St. Paul, in our Second Reading, wrote to Timothy: "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" (2 Tim 1:7-8).
Timothy had received Holy Orders from Paul and was consecrated a bishop. However perhaps due to his youth, he may not have been sufficiently assertive or lacked confidence and needed to be encouraged to trust in the gifts he had received.
Those called to preach the Gospel must remain steadfast in the truth. Those who have received Holy Orders should be models of perseverance.
Paul's words encourage us too. He wrote these words while chained in prison! Even in the midst of suffering, we can count on the work of the Holy Spirit to grant us the courage and strength needed to carry out God's will.
If we cry out to the Lord "Lord increase my faith!" as the Apostles did in our Gospel, he will grant the increase and stir into flame the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
Our job is to continue resolutely in our faith no matter the trials that have, or will, beset us. It is what we "ought to do." One day, though we are but "unprofitable servants." We will be invited to eat and drink at the Lord's table, in the Lord's Kingdom. (c.f. Luke 17:10)
With the election season drawing closer, I urge you to pray for our country and the candidates. But also to "take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me (Paul), in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim 13)
God bless you all,
Father Robert Letona
October is the month of the Holy Rosary. I encourage you to pray the rosary With your families at home, or while on a car trip, or even while going for a walk. It is a powerful weapon against the darkness.