October 7, 2007
ORDINARY 27 (C)
And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” – Lk. 17: 5
The apostles are not ready for Our Lord’s way of life, & they do not think they can carry it out. Whatever resources they may have are not sufficient for the task. So they ask for more. Jesus agrees they need faith, but not more faith. They need to be reminded of what faith is: being open to & responding to God’s grace. Faith is not about unaided human powers, but about human abilities in league with divine intentions & activity.
Faith gives people access to a different way, a way that overturns how it has always been. What looks unmovable is not. When we confront new situations & are asked to respond out of our personal resources, we immediately sense what we lack & look outside ourselves for help. Jesus tells us to reappraise what we might bring to the situation. He sees more in us than we see in ourselves. Faith is among our resources.
If we do not know what we have, we cannot use it to make things happen. Too often we wallow in the world of excuses & impotency. There is comfort in being less than who we are. Yet our Lord keeps telling us that we have the tools to live in the kingdom of God . He dares us to be more, but that can lead to the opposite extreme: we can think we are more than we are. How do we keep within realistic limits of our resources? The answer is to not rely on our own resources alone, but to tap into God’s resources. That can help us to avoid being overwhelmed by what we consider impossible.
This means that if we achieve the impossible, we cannot pat ourselves on the back. We should not expect any over-&-above gratitude. Even if it seems we have gone beyond what is expected, it was not our doing but the Lord’s. From the perspective of faith it is all in a day’s work. After all, the be-all & end-all of a slave is service, & so it should be with us. In the kingdom of God , abundant service is not extraordinary. It is just how things are.
Today is Respect Life Sunday. Given the enormity of the problem in this country, one might well be tempted to think “What can one person do?” Such a question is beside the point when one has the faith of a mustard seed, for we are no longer talking about the resources of one person. We have God & the force of truth behind us, & we will prevail. It may not be in my lifetime but that too is irrelevant. The church is at her finest when she is standing up to & bucking the trend of a world dominated by selfish motives.
If the early Christians had let such considerations intimidate them, they never would have converted the Roman Empire . A great deal is at stake in this issue: nothing less than the soul of a whole people. Laws may not deter determined people intent on doing their own thing, but they are important for saying to the world “These are our values.” They establish the norm that we as a people believe in. So long as we remain true to our faith & our Lord, at the end of the day He just might even say to us, “Well done, good & faithful servant.” AMEN!