October 3, 2010
ORDINARY 27 (C)
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” – Luke 17: 5
What do we mean by the word ‘faith?’ Belief in something we can neither see nor understand? Hardly. In simple terms, it means responding to the intervention of God in our lives & incorporating the divine into the fabric of our lives. This does not mean getting an injection of some supernatural Kickapoo joy juice so we can accomplish something that would otherwise be humanly impossible. It means learning to trust in God come what may, & that is by no means easy or obvious.
Quantity of faith is not the issue, but about our frail human abilities cooperating with God. Our Lord uses the image of the mulberry tree, whose extensive roots are embedded in the earth. People of faith can uproot it & replant it in a place where no one ever expected it could grow because “nothing will impossible with God” (Luke 1: 37). With faith we can join with divine creative activity to make improbable things happen.
The oppression of the weak & the spiral of violence is the ever-present underside of human history. For example, it is evident in the bullying that goes on in schools. Just as the roots of a mulberry tree are deep in the earth, the roots of this way of human behavior are deep in both the human psyche & social structures.
Faith, however, gives us a different way, a way that overturns how it has always been. What looks unmovable is not. Oppression & violence will obey the faith present in Jesus’ followers if they have confidence in God. The ‘impossible possibility’ is so much within the scope of our identities as servants of God, that we should not expect any over-&-above gratitude or special reward. While we might seem to be engaged in going beyond what is expected, from the perspective of faith it is all in a day’s work.
We are under God’s orders to bring about the Kingdom. Our nature is to serve & we must be diligent about it. Looking for reward & thanks is not appropriate because it will continue the false consciousness that we are doing something far beyond the ordinary. In God’s Kingdom, service is not extraordinary. It is just how things are. We do not need more faith; we just need confidence in what we have.
How do we take the dare “to be more” while at the same time recognizing the realistic limits of our resources? That requires discernment, & that can only take place within the community of believers we call the Church.
It is a matter of not being overwhelmed by what we consider impossible. As minimal as it may be, our faith can uproot old & destructive patterns & replace them with caring & reconciled relationships so long as we are plugged into the divine. That is why we need a spiritual discipline & input from fellow believers who can help us see our rationalizations for what they are. AMEN!