We may be scandalized that such verses questioning God have made into the Holy Scriptures but the truth is that they have. It also means that God wanted them in the Scriptures and that they are sacred like the other parts of the Bible. The prophet who wrote them lived in VII B.C. when the Babylonian Empire was growing in strength looming like a predator to hit the home country of Habakuk, the hills of Judea with Jerusalem as capital. The prophet observing the new threat appearing on the horizon knew that it was just a matter of time to be hit by those pagans. That’s why he is asking: why is this enemy power threatening our region? The answer he is getting is as good as his question. God responds telling the prophet: “The new empire controls the region but I am the one who is in control of the whole universe, including the Babylonians. I am going to use them to discipline my people who are abandoning me. Then when they experience the pain of exile they will turn to me and I will save them.” And God ads: “If this vision comes slowly, wait, for come it will, without fail.” God’s plans will be fulfilled. The course of events isn’t a game of demons but it is a precise operation planned and brought to full completion by the Almighty who “in abundance of his kindness surpasses the desires of those who entreat him” as we prayed in the collect at the beginning of this Mass.
Evil and suffering are used by some people to prove that God is cruel but this approach leads to nowhere, to face evil and suffering, we need faith that God is good and loving. If this belief is firmly established in us we move from asking why, to contemplating where it is leading to.
That’s why the first reading and the Gospel are the same prayer though expressed in different ways. Prophet Habakuk was crying to heaven: “Why is this evil hovering over us?” not to accuse God but to enter deeper into God’s plans, to be moved from fright and confusion to peace and assurance of God’s unceasing care and his irrevocable love. The Apostle asking the Lord: “Increase our faith.” articulated the same desire, to have faith in God who is the Lord of the whole universe with all that happens there. The Lord who is able to do such things like uprooting a mulberry tree, which roots are so spread that it is impossible for people to pull it out without killing the tree, but the Lord can do even more, he can make the same mulberry tree grow in the salty ocean.
If, He, the Lord of the whole Universe can do such impossible things with the mulberry tree, He can bring eternal good and salvation out of all evil and suffering we see, hear of or go through.
Have faith my brothers and sisters. Amen.