Friday, October 1, 2010

Faith the size of a mustard seed

Twenty Seventh Ordinary Sunday Year C

When we look at the world around us, we often think that the world and its people have gone crazy! Killing not only in the war fields but also innocent children; domestic violence; ill treatment of maids; rape, corruption, destruction. We can identify with the sentiments of the prophet Habakkuk when he made this statement about the society of his time: “Outrage and violence, this is all I see, all is contention, and discord flourishes.” With so much evil in the world, its no wonder that so many people suffer from depression.

Perhaps the more important question that concerns us is this: “How can I find meaning in life in the midst of so much madness?” Philosophers have been trying to provide solutions to this question over the centuries but there is no satisfactory answer. It is clear that the answer does not lie with a human solution. In order to deal with an ‘evil’ that is beyond our control, an ‘evil’ that is beyond our understanding - we must seek for answers that lies beyond mere human understanding.

Today’s reading speaks of faith – a faith that enables us to see how God remains in control although evil and violence seems all pervasive, a faith that gives direction when we are lost; a faith that helps us to persevere even when faced with the many problems of life. In today’s world, we need faith more than ever if we are to survive.

Jesus tells us that if we were to have faith “the size of a mustard seed” we could uproot trees and in fact, move mountains. How do we understand this? First of all, Jesus is not focusing on the miraculous power of faith. Some people think that if we have faith, all kinds of illnesses, even the terminal ones, can be physically healed. The conclusion they often make when they don’t see the results of healing is that they lack faith or they may begin to blame God for not answering their prayers. This is a wrong understanding of faith. This kind of understanding makes ‘faith’ a kind of ticket for miracles and reduces God to a paid performer.

True faith is really based on a relationship of trust. Faith is when we believe God will take care of all things and ultimately not allow us to come to any harm. Faith is allowing God to be God, allowing God to take control of our lives and the situation without dictating to him how we want him to solve our problems. In this sense, we can then understand why Jesus uses the metaphor of the ‘mustard seed’, a tiny seed. Faith, our contribution to the solution of the problem is like that tiny seed. We just need to ask, sit back and allow God to do the rest. If we say that we have ‘faith’ then we must be prepared to allow God a free hand to do what he thinks will be the best for us and for the world. The problem is that we often feel we must take a greater role – we want to be ones that can move mountains rather than allowing God to do this.

In today’s mass, let us ask God for the grace to be able to see the world through the eyes of faith. Let us echo the words of the disciple and ask this of God: “Increase our faith.”

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