The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
The Lord replied,
"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,í and it would obey you.
"Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the
'Come here immediately and take your place at table'?
Would he not rather say to him,
'Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished'?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, 'We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'"
Imagine a world
in which no one had faith in anything. What would it be
like? Could such a world function? We seldom reflect on the
fact that so much that happens in our lives depends on our
having faith, most often in ourselves more so than others.
If no one had faith in government and it's leaders, and that
seems to be the case in this country of ours today, at least
a great percentage don't have it, in doctors, in airline pilots,
in ministers, in schools, in
parents, in spouses, in employers, and
friends, then life as we know it just might grind to a halt.
Our lives could then be characterized by cynicism, despair,
and anarchy. Needless to say a world in which no one had
faith in anything could possibly be a useless world.
But suppose we narrow the question down a bit and ask, "What
would a world be like in which no one had religious
faith? The answer to that question might seem more
difficult. Would it really make all that much difference if
no one had any religious faith? Life would surely go on.
It's just that there'd be no churches, or temples, or
synagogues, or other places of worship. There would be no
religious ceremonies, no believing communities, no prayer
communities. There would be no holy book like the bible, no
holy people, no notion of holiness at all. And if that were
the case, then how could there be an appreciation of life,
of a search, of a quest, of a dream? No appreciation of
life as a gift from God. These things are so much a part of
who and what we are, that a world without religious faith
would be a world we would hardly recognize as human.
Strangely enough, perhaps we don't often think of faith in
that way. We think of it as a very private thing; something
I have as an individual; something I must preserve in;
something a bit precarious, something I could loose if I am
not careful. And so we have a lot of sympathy with the
apostles in today's reading when they make that appeal to
Jesus, "Increase our faith."
Perhaps the Lord's reply seems very odd. We almost get
the impression that he thinks faith is linked
unlikely wonders, to our everyday ordinary lives. He replied, "Where your faith the size of
a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'be
rooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you." You
see my friends, the faith that Jesus is talking about is not
the kind of thing that can be measured. It is not the kind
of thing we can have more or less of. Faith is a way of
being; a way of seeing; a way of journeying. It's not
something we have, but rather it's something that we
are caught up in, itís something that we live. Of course,
there is a private and personal dimension of faith. But
essentially we're not isolated individuals who have to grit
our teeth and hang on to our faith through thick or thin.
Faith is also a gift that embodies trust and prayer; a gift
passed on or shared.
We are part of a community of believers, a community who
tries to lead a life of faith and support for each other in
that life of faith. That community is not confined to folks
we worship with at church, not confined to family and
friends that we meet whenever or are visible to us. As far
as I am concerned, that community has been broadened by the
access to the internet to include so many others from just
about anyplace, folks who share and give their hearts to
others as dear friends. I believe that to be a special gift
from God to be able to be in touch with so many others who
are living the morals and values that I have myself try to
live, and to be able to be a part of so many other's life
and faith journey. What a tremendous blessing to be able to
grow in faith, in the love of our Lord with them.
And we donít even think about a measure of that faith, we
just live it and are immersed in it. Yes, us broken and
pitiful people who are sinners, who donít know all of the
answers to all of the problems of life, who so often
question God about one thing or another, trying to figure
out the going-onís in our own lives as well as that of each
other. Perhaps that is what Jesus is trying to tell us in
this gospel reading. We donít need to understand
everything, because we cannot understand everything anyway,
most certainly the mindset of God. Take what we have and go with
it, live that out, but live it out with each other.
One of the most amazing understandings concerning God came
to light to me quite recently that could possibly give us a
better notion about faith as it pertains to our
understanding of Jesus and the lessons in life that we can
learn. I realize of course that the greatest happening in
history of Christianity was the suffering, death, and
resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that greatest
happening came about as a result of his great suffering, his
pain, both physical and mental. If our salvation and our
gift of eternal life with God, came as a result of pain and
suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, then there
must me other lessons for us to learn as a result of our own
pain and suffering, as well as others, and the death of our
loved ones and friends, that should lead us to a greater
understanding of the ďfaithĒ that we are talking about.
As followers of Christ everything we do is informed by
faith. Faith surrounds us, faith carries us, faith is our
way of being. And we manifest our faith in simple and
obvious ways, by prayer, by reaching out to one another in
the kind of love that Jesus reaches out to us with; by
compassion, understanding, and by sharing the gifts that God
has blessed us with, by sharing those gifts freely. It
might not seem so very spectacular to us. It's certainly
has nothing do with performing amazing feasts. But faith
really does change the world. A world without religious
faith, and even more so, personal faith, would be an
impoverished world, for it would be a world in which the
deepest aspirations of the human heart could have no place.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead, praying for the needs of
our country, and those who are suffering in any way. Yours
in Christ . . .