Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Truth will out
How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord. Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision Clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. 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. The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. Hb 1,2-3; 2,2-4
Today we get to know Habakkuk’s book, a partial knowledge since there are not certain facts about this prophet. It is widely thought only that his book could date back to the end of the VII century BC. Today’s reading is taken from it and announces a truth which is of great consolation for the righteous man in every time: prosperity coming from evil deeds is short-lived. This is the answer the Lord gives to the question asked at the beginning: “I cry out to you ‘Violence’ but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?” It is a question that man has always asked himself and has brought many important philosophers to conclude that God does not exist, or at least he is far from the struggle of mankind, and therefore he cannot be the Loving God as proclaimed in the Gospel. In today’s reading, on the contrary, the Lord tells the prophet: “The rash man has no integrity, but the just man, because of his faith, shall live”. Eight hundred years later, Saint Paul will give the same answer with much-alike words: “For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written ‘The one who is righteous by faith will live’” (Rm 1, 17). Justice, which Paul and Habakkuk identify with salvation – is accomplished not only in eternity, but is already at work and continuously evolving as faith evolves or, using the same words as the apostle’s, passing “from faith to faith”. Assuming the fact that faith holds in itself God’s justice and salvation, we wonder if “the rash man” is also destined to fail even on these earthly days, as the Lord announces to Habakkuk today. According to our experience, the answer is yes! If it does not happen earlier, it will happen on the verge of death. Ms Rita, head nurse at the Hospice department of the hospital of Busto Arsizio, a department meant to accompany the terminally ill people to their death, confided to us, while we were waiting our friend Mary: “You cannot imagine how death is a great moment of truth: when they are passing away, people can no longer lie to themselves, and if their conscience is not at ease, they fight to the end not to die before they have solved their open accounts with life. If they cannot find a remedy, at least they ask to be forgiven. Who is at peace with himself or herself, on the contrary, closes the eyes and passes away smiling”. There is a proverb in our beloved Tuscany: “The devils makes pots, but not the lids”, which means “Truth will out”. The devil does not want the lids even to exist, because he wishes bad also for the ones who have listened to his sneaky suggestions.