I had hoped to get all of Fr. Jim’s homilies posted to you today but there is a “monkey wrench” thrown into the works: I will not be able to get them all in the correct date order. Notice that this one is two weeks later than the first one I sent to you. That is because when Fr. Jim sent me the one for September 25th he sent me the exact same one as he sent for September 18th. I am waiting for his email with the correct homily for September 25th. But, because I promised you, dear readers, that I would get the “back ordered” ones to you, I have decided to go ahead and release all the others. Thank you for your patience…..reyanna
•Habakkuk 1: 2-3; 2: 2-4 + 2 Timothy 1: 6-8, 13-14 + Luke 17: 5-10•
Weekly Scripture Readings:27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
As you participate in the liturgical assembly today, look around you and note the many diverse sort of people with whom you are gathered. We all listen to the same scripture texts. However we come together with our own unique family, work and recreation experience. Some of us enter this Assembly trying to be “religious.” Others are motivated by “faith.” The differences among us are enormous and that diversity affects how we hear the texts proclaimed.
So it was as Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem. Luke indicates that sometimes he addressed his teaching to large crowds and sometimes only to the Twelve. In either case, their diversity of circumstances and experiences affected how they heard and responded to his words.
Much of his teaching conflicted with the accepted social norms of his listeners. Gradually he entrusts to them a vision of the sort of people he is calling them to be. They were struggling to understand him. Inclusiveness and the willingness to forgive are but two examples of what they found challenging.
As his close companions continued to Jerusalem with him, they felt confusion, doubt and fear. One day their feelings must have peaked. They began to feel totally inadequate for the task he was asking of them. They speak up asking, “Lord, increase our faith.”
In response Jesus uses the ridiculous to teach the obvious: “the mulberry tree” and a “mustard seed.” One seed produces a great bush! He is telling them they have all the faith they need to do the things he has been teaching them. “They can transform the world around them.” So can you!!
Those listening to Jesus were Jews, “religious” people. They pondered the great mysteries of existence just as we do. They engaged in religious practices seeking God’s blessings on their lives.
“Religion” and “religious practices” tend to awaken narcissism –concern about self. Most often the prayer of “religion” is trying to change God’s will – “help me find a job;” or trying to assure God’s blessing — “I go to Mass and try to be virtuous in order to save my soul.”
The important thing about our gospel text today is this. The Apostles were not asking for help with “religious” practice. They were asking, “Lord, increase our faith.”
“Faith” is not about me, and my needs, but about “God’s plan, God’s will.” “Faith” sets self aside and simply stands, with open mind and heart, before that Gracious Mystery we name God. The prayer of “faith” is “here I am Lord. Do with me as you will.” I had dinner with some old friends this week. He is now blind. That is his simple prayer! “Here I am Lord. Do with me as you will.”
After examples of the “mustard seed” and “the mulberry tree,” the remainder of the text reflects the social realities in Palestine at that historical moment. Palestine is a slave-owning society. So Jesus employs the behavior of “a servant” to illustrate what it is like to be a person of faith.
He makes the point that embracing the way of life he has been setting before them and to which he is inviting them is not about winning “brownie points.” “Faith” is about living in harmony with the creative will of that Gracious Mystery we name God. It is about imitating Christ, becoming the sort of people Jesus is calling us to be, and thereby becoming fully human as he was.
Perhaps like the Apostles, we often pray “Lord, increase our faith.” That is a good prayer. Never accept a watered down version of Christianity. Never stop yearning to live in harmony with the gospel. Never stop yearning to expand your ability to love. And never forget this. “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,” you can and will transform the world around you!