Greetings on this the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: HAB 1:2-3; 2:2-4; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; 2 TM 1:6-8, 13-14; LK 17:5-10
The Gospel reading today has the apostles in an awkward position in which they request the Lord to use his power to increase their faith.
Just what are they thinking?
The reading does comes right after the teaching about the very personal and grave impact of leading others to sin. On top of that Jesus then says you most forgive anyone who asks forgiveness even if they are the ones leading others to sin (see Luke 17:1-4).
The apostles are feeling their insufficiency. Who can possibly never lead others to sin and who can always forgive all the time!
Increase our faith
Increase our faith so we never lead others to sin and we always forgive others. Problem solved.
Not so fast.
Mustard and Mulberry (Sycamine) Tree
Jesus is rebutting this concept in a manner of speaking as to what is prohibiting the health of their faith life.
- A Mustard tree – from a small seed grows the largest of trees where many find comfort and protection.
- A Mulberry tree – is a very fruitful tree yielding fruit even living in the most difficult of environments.
Jesus is making clear that your faith as small as it is contains the potentiality of becoming a great tree where many find comfort and protection. Jesus is saying further that the fruitfulness of your faith will come even in the most difficult of places and situations. Fruitfulness can be abundant even when planted in the sea.
How can this be they are asking?
Faith in Jesus is literally this: trusting in the action of the Lord to provide the sufficiency in our insufficiency when we act.
“When we act” – This is Jesus’ point. Faith that is not put into action will never realize the potential and the power give to you.
Increase our faith
The psalmist urges us on, ‘If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’
Harden not your hearts referring back to the journey through the desert as a part of the Exodus experience.
Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.
- Meribah – means place of contention.
- Massah – means place of trial.
Thirst and fear were the trial and the contention being their lack of faith in the Lord. Yet the Lord provided water from the rock at Horeb.
The Lord acted and so should we. It was in this trial that the sanctity of the Lord is revealed (Num 20:13).
Stir [your faith] into flame
Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy tells us we have a role in increasing our faith.
Stir it into flames!
Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.
It is in the acting and doing (opposite of cowardice) that hardship comes and in that hardship the sanctity of God is revealed and strengthened within us.
Do As I Do
Jesus tells us that my Father is at work until now, so I am at work (Jn 5:11). Therefore the commandment to work is not something we should brag about rather it is in participation in the work the Father does as Jesus taught us to do.
Do faith. Be a mustard tree. Be a mulberry tree.
And know the Lord works through you in your trials!
Peace be with you,