Fr. Mike Lagrimas’ Homily for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 03, 2010

Useless but Faithful Servants

There was a great tightrope walker who dared to cross the Twin Towers of the World
Trade Center. Braving the strong winds and the dizzying height, the man, holding on to
his balancing pole, successfully crossed from one tower to the other. On his way down the
building, a TV news reporter interviewed him, “Sir, that was truly incredible! Are you going to
do it again?” The man said, “Yes. And I will do something more next time.” “And what will you
do?” the newsman was curious. The tightrope walker said, “I will cross the towers blindfolded.
Do you believe I can do this?” The reporter answered, “Yes, I believe. I saw you do it just
now. I know and believe that you can do it.” “Really?” said the man. “That would be great
because I want to have the whole thing seen on TV! Bring your camera and I will have you on
my back as I walk on the rope.”

In the Gospel, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” It was a humble
admission on their part that their faith was weak. However, instead of answering their
request, Jesus told them the parable of the unprofitable servant. In the end, after fulfilling his
duties, a true servant does not expect any reward or praise from the Master. He would be
pleased to say, “I am a mere servant. I only did what I was obliged to do.”

Jesus is giving us two lessons. First, mature faith is expressed in our willingness to always
put God’s will as the first priority in our lives. Our true happiness consists not in any expected
reward, but in simply knowing that we have accomplished our duties in fulfillment of God’s
will. Hence, we readily forget ourselves and work tirelessly for God, knowing that He will
come to our aid in the best opportune time. The youthful St. Dominic Savio said, “Nothing
seems tiresome or painful when you are working for a Master who pays well; who rewards
even a cup of cold water given for love of Him.” The Scriptures says, “Seek ye first the
Kingdom of God, and all these things will be given you besides.”

Second, faith grows and increases in the hearts of humble people who live like little children.
Humility and faith go together. After all, faith is the humble acceptance of the fact that we are
nothing, and it is God alone who supplies us with everything. And so we turn to Him, knowing
that He will not abandon or ignore us. This is very clear in the example of the Blessed Virgin
Mary: “I am the maidservant of the Lord. Be it done unto me as you say.” The source of
Mary’s greatness was in being an obedient and humble servant of the Lord all the days of her
life. Humility is the fertile soil of the seed of faith.

God is our Master. We are His useless servants. We are “useless” or “unprofitable” because
God does not need anything from us or from anyone else. He is absolutely complete and
perfect. Yet because of His love for us, He allows us to serve Him, to be part of His saving
mission. It is never our right to serve Him; it is only a privilege given to us. Hence, the
mere opportunity to serve Him is already enough reward for us. And we do so in grateful
recognition of His countless blessings and limitless mercy and love for us. St. Isaac
Jogues puts it beautifully: “My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for
accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and
to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings.”

We always pray. But what do we ask from God? How many times have we prayed for an

increase of faith? We may not realize this, but the lack of faith in God is one of the main
reasons for the troubles in the world. People depend greatly on money and human power.
But they are painfully aware of how fleeting and ephemeral these are. So they are in constant
insecurity and fear. Fear of losing these things impels them to turn to other ways, mostly
crooked and immoral ways. And that’s when troubles come. But the man of faith has no
insecurities and fears whatsoever, for his life is rooted, not in passing things, but in the
Eternal God.

Lack of faith is also the source of man’s unhappiness. Many people worship and serve God.
But at the back of their minds they think they are entitled to receive some reward, and they
expect God to serve them in return. Failing to get what they expect, they are disappointed
and frustrated, and they begin to search for another God. So we witness nowadays the
proliferation of false religions, all zealously proclaiming the Prosperity Gospel. This is
precisely the warning of St. Paul to the Philippians: “Many go about in the way that shows
them to be enemies of the cross of Christ. Such as these will end in disaster. Their god is
their belly and their glory is in their shame” (Phil. 3:18-19).

On one occasion, Jesus asked this question, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find
faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8). As we witness the massive exodus of people turning away
from the true faith, let us examine ourselves: how strong is our faith? If we are still looking
for miracles, if we are expecting for some reward, and if we are afraid of losing worldly
conveniences, these are clear indications that our faith is still weak. The Gospel this Sunday
shows us that mature faith mainly consists in our willingness to serve God unconditionally,
without counting the cost. The Blessed Mother Teresa said, “We are at Jesus’ disposal. If He
wants you to be sick in bed, if He wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if He wants
you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, ‘I belong to
you. You can do whatever you like.’ And this is our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord.”

In the midst of life’s uncertainties and troubles, let us hold on to Jesus who assures us, “Do
not be afraid. I am with you always until the end of time.” In the end, let the words of St.
Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of the youth, be our firm resolve and conviction: “It is
better to be the child of God than king of the whole world.”

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Teresa Church
New York, NY 10002

1 comment for “Fr. Mike Lagrimas’ Homily for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  1. leticia L. Ysibido
    November 9, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    hi!! Fr.Mike, nice homily! remember me from Holy Redeemer Church. Kamusta na po kayo? matagal na kayo sa NY? Regards.

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