Getting Angry With God
In his homily for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Father Hanly looks at Habakkuk and how he gets angry with God.
Readings for Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
- First Reading: Habakkuk 1:2-3,2:2-4
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
- Second Reading: Second Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
- Gospel: Luke 17:5-10
Habakkuk is angry, not at the people who are causing all the trouble, he gets angry at God. He is really angry at God.
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 one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.
That’s wonderful. That’s Habakkuk. The beginning, middle and end.
I like Habakkuk. He’s trying to hold people together and he is screaming at God because he loves God, because he cares for God, because he hopes for God.
He doesn’t run away. You see, most people, when we come across stuff like this we run away, you know, off to New York (chuckles) or wherever it is you like to run away to.
But there’s Habakkuk standing there against these incredible warriors, almost all alone with a handful of Israelites — and he stays.
And he complains to God.
And we still do that. At least when I was young, it was very common among us that when we prayed, we were angry at God a lot, because we had Sisters who used to say, “Now, if you feel angry, if you feel terribly angry, leave your mother and father alone, what you do is you go in and pray and get angry with God.”
Great advice now. Do people do that anymore? I don’t know.
Get angry with God – why?
Poor God. God can only forgive. Did you ever know that?
God cannot get angry. The Jewish people write Him up as if He’s very angry. He’s not angry at all.
Why? God cannot get angry. If He got angry, it would show that there was something a little wrong with Him.
When we get angry, when we get angry, we kind of are ashamed of ourselves, or at least most of us are.
Anger is not for God. And this is the great lesson that Habakkuk draws out from Him – anger is not from God.
We hear, “Then the Lord answered me.”
He added, “The vision is still there. It presses on to fulfilment. It will not disappoint you.”
He’s kind of soothing poor Habakkuk,
“Do not be disappointed. If it delays, wait for it. It’s coming. It will surely come. It will not be late.
“The rash one has no integrity. Don’t follow them. But the just one, the good one, the one who cares, the one who will live, the one who will have life is the one who has faith.”
And, of course, faith is everything in the Old Testament. If you don’t have faith you might as well open up a laundry or something. You have to have faith.
Faith means you don’t know everything, but you’re willing to risk your life for it.
And, of course, the people that follow God have great faith.
Because how often have you seen God? How often have you wondered and prayed and there’s no voice that’s coming back?
And yet our faith holds and our faith makes us who we are.
You’re all sitting in this room because you have faith — not because you have money, not because you’ve got happiness, not because you’ve got something — you just have faith in God who says, “My little children, I love you.”
You notice when God speaks, He has a vision and what we’re supposed to learn from that is you have to have a vision.
If you don’t have a vision, you’ll just be getting up in the morning, do the laundry, eat, sleep, get up in the morning, and do the laundry, and eat and sleep. Or you hang around with a few people and you hang around until they’re boring and then you go home and watch television, you know.
This is not the way to do it. You have to have vision.
What is vision?
Vision means that you can see beyond your dreams, that you can see, when you look at people, beyond the little bit that they show to you.
Vision makes life possible. People with no vision, they die, maybe not physically, but they die in their hearts.
Vision means this world has meaning, it has purpose.
And that meaning and that purpose belongs to the one person who should have that meaning and purpose, which is God, God Himself!
It is God who quietly comes into your heart and says, “Believe.”
It is God who has been with you even before you were born and He will be with you for all eternity.
It is God who silently steals a way into your life and gives it meaning, gives it intensity, gives it a reason to do crazy things.
Really all, really all of the saints did crazy things, you know, get on a boat and go all the way to China (chuckles) and try to speak and convert, these people who don’t even know the language.
There’s a lot of laughter, there’s a lot of wonder, but those are the people, the saints who have come before us, we still talk about them as if they’re around. They’re in our heart.