Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 6, 2019

Travelling in Europe gave ample opportunities for my claustrophobia to come out.  I am convinced that Europe was created for really small people.  It has the tiniest and slowest elevators known to mankind; hotel bathrooms are clearly created for bodies of ten-year old children; personal space is non-existent.     

Jesus may not have been claustrophobic but he sure knew what it was to get trapped in small thinking.  Last week we heard the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, showing us what it was to be trapped in our small minds; our blindness to others; not reaching out or caring, not even seeing others.  

The apostles, it seems, are beginning to wake up to the darkness of their own tiny thinking because now they plead with Jesus, “Increase our faith!” I’m sure they were thinking, as we do, that if lack of faith is what creates our small thinking, then surely more faith will be the key to our release.

Jesus says a bigger bucket of faith is not the answer. He tells us that even the tiniest speck of faith has more power than we can imagine.  We’re just thinking too small!  Asking for more faith is one of our delay tactics—oh, what amazing feats we would accomplish if only God would give us more faith!  What Jesus seems to be saying to us is to get busy doing what we ought to be doing.  We have enough faith; doing what we ought to do is for right now, this moment, whatever the condition of our hearts, whatever the quality or capacity of our faith and trust, is what needs to happen.

To do what we already know we ought to do—watch out for our neighbor, do good to those who do us wrong, share the abundance of our resources, pray without ceasing, welcome the stranger, love our enemies—is how our faith grows.   

The month of October has been set apart by the bishops of our country as Respect Life Month.  Every year we are reminded to do what we ought to be doing the other eleven months of the year, as well – to stand up for the weakest, to protect the most vulnerable, to be the voice for the voiceless.  It reminds us that if we have the faith of a mustard seed, we already have the power to move mountains of injustice and fill the caverns of hate and tear down walls that narrow our thinking, to open our doors to those who need shelter, to open our eyes and our hearts to those who most need love and respect and protection.  We are trapped, not by a lack of faith, but by what we fail to do.  We have absolute freedom to do what we have been called to do because even faith the size of a mustard seed, Jesus tells us, is enough. 

Faith is not something that God pours into us but that which wells up in us as we go step-by-sometimes-fearful-step into the steady practice of the way of Jesus. The bigger the step, the stronger in faith we are apt to feel.  In those times we feel trapped in our weakness, the more we are given the possibility to experience God’s capacity.  Doing what we feel we cannot do, but doing it anyway, proves that what ultimately matters is not so much our faith in Jesus as his faith in us. 

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