Faith (Luke 17:5-10) 27th Sunday Ordinary time – Deacon Pat
Adapted from a homily by Father Michael Marsh
How many of us have said: “If I just had more faith.”
I think most of us have struggled with this at some point in our lives.
We might even have thought:
· If I just had more faith, I wouldn’t have so many questions or doubts.
· If I just had more faith, God would answer my prayers.
· If I just had more faith, he or she would not have died; or he or she would have recovered.
· If I just had more faith, I would be more involved in the Church.
· If I just had more faith, I would be a better person, a better parent, a better spouse.
· If I just had more faith, I would know what to do, I would handle things better.
· If I just had more faith, life would be different.
Maybe to understand this Gospel message more deeply and this concept of faith we need to examine the apostle’s approach to faith.
Jesus has just warned them not to become stumbling blocks to others and enjoined them to forgive as often as an offender repents even if it is seven times in one day.
The Apostles must have thought:
· This new teaching is too difficult to do and to live that way.
So, they asked, “Jesus, Increase our faith.”
It seems like a reasonable request.
If a little is good, a lot must be better.
If McDonald’s can supersize our fries and drinks surely Jesus can supersize our faith.
This request to increase their faith,
the belief that if they had more faith things would be different,
reveals, at best, a misunderstanding of faith itself and,
at worst, probably demonstrates a fair amount of unfaithfulness.
Jesus is very clear that faithfulness is not about size or quantity.
“If you had faith the size of a mustard seed,” he says, “you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
· Faith is not given to us in a packet to be spent as currency in our dealings with God.
· Faith is not measured out according to how difficult the task or work before us will be.
· Faith is not a thing we have or get.
Faith is a relationship of trust and love.
It means opening ourselves to receive another’s life and giving our life to another.
That other is Jesus the Christ.
That one faith-relationship is determinative of who we are and how we live.
· Faith is not about giving intellectual agreement to a particular doctrine or idea.
· Faith is not about how much or how strongly we believe Jesus’s words or actions.
When we speak about a married couple’s faithfulness, we do not mean they always believe or agree with each other’s ideas or even a particular understanding of marriage.
· They are faithful because they have committed themselves to each other in love and trust.
· They are faithful because they continually give their life to the other and receive the other’s life as their own.
· They are faithful because they carry with them that one relationship wherever they go, in all that they are, and all that they do.
So true it is also in our faith-relationship with Jesus.
Faith will not, however, change the circumstances of our lives.
Instead, it changes us.
Living in faith does not shield us from the pain and difficulties of life,
it does not undo the past,
and it will not guarantee a particular future.
Rather, faith is the means by which we face and deal with the circumstances of life – the difficulties and losses, the joys and successes, the opportunities and possibilities.
Faith does not get us a pat on the back, a reward, or a promotion in God’s eyes.
It is simply the way in which we live and move and have our being so that,
at the end of the day,
the faithful ones can say, without pride or shame,
“We have done only what we ought to have done!”
Nothing more and nothing less.
· We have lived in openness to, trust in, and love for Christ.
· We have allowed him to guide our decisions, our words, and our actions.
· We have been sustained by him in both life and death.
Faith, however, is not lived out in the abstract.
It is practiced day after day in the ordinary everyday circumstances.
Some days when the pain and heaviness of life seem more than we can carry it is by faith,
relationship with Jesus,
that we get up each morning and face the reality of life.
Other days present other circumstances.
When we feel the pain of the world and respond with compassion by:
· feeding the hungry,
· housing the homeless,
· speaking for justice;
· when we experience the brokenness of a relationship and offer forgiveness and mercy;
· when we see the downtrodden and offer our presence and prayers,
· and when we help a woman carry her pregnancy to term,
— in all those things we have lived, seen, and acted by faith.
And speaking of acting, we now have a special opportunity to put our faith in action, especially in light of the reversal of Roe versus Wade.
We have an opportunity to help those mothers with a crisis pregnancy who might have previously aborted their child.
So many will now be in need of reassurance, support, friendship, and help.
Thank goodness for the Gabriel Project where volunteers called Gabriel Angels are trained to:
· be a resource to answer questions about pregnancy, childcare, and parenting,
· Provide friendship and emotional and spiritual support,
· Help with items for a new baby,
· And have knowledge about available community resources.
Maybe God is calling you to become one of these Gabriel Angels, one of their volunteers?
Or maybe you can help in other ways.
Truly this is something worth praying about.
God often creates situations and then waits for us to act. Or not act.
Wasn’t it Padre Pio that once stated the greatest of all sins in the world are sins of omission?
So what is our take-away from this special Gospel message today?
Maybe it is that Faith is how we live;
the lens through which we see ourselves, others, and the world;
the criterion by which we act and speak.
Maybe it means that Faithfulness no matter where we go, no matter what circumstances we face we do so in relationship with the One who created, loves, sustains, and redeems us.
Jesus does not supersize our faith.
It is not necessary.
We live by faith not because we have enough faith but because we have faith, any faith, even mustard-seed sized faith.
That is all we need.
Jesus believes that, so should we.
The question is not how much faith we have, but rather, how are we living the faith we do have?
How is our faith, our relationship with Jesus, changing our lives, our relationships, the lives of others?
If it is not, more of the same will surely make no difference.
The mustard seed of faith is already planted within us.
It is Christ himself.
He has withheld from us nothing.
We already have enough.
We already are enough.
We do not need more faith.
We need more response to the faith, to Christ, to the relationship we already have.
Let us now act upon this faith, starting today, and become a reflection of Christ to the world around us.