WelCom October 2019:
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 17: 5-10
5 The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ 6 The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith like a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. 7 ‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, “Come and have your meal at once?” 8 Would he not be more likely to say, “Get my supper ready; fasten your belt and wait on me while I eat and drink. You yourself can eat and drink afterwards?” 9 Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? 10 So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are unprofitable servants: we have done no more than our duty.” ’
If only we had Faith?
A reflection on Luke 17: 5-10
What a great request the apostles made to their Master; ‘Increase our Faith’ (Lk 17:5). Jesus’ answer tells us that more faith is not the answer. Faith is not measured by quantity but by its presence. A mustard seed, although so very small, is a living thing that, when planted, grows into a very large tree. But like the parable of the sower, success depends on fertile ground for growth. Jesus tells us that with just a miniscule of faith, we could uproot a grown tree and cast it into the sea. How can we interpret Jesus’ words? Jesus has said in another context; ‘Ask, and it will be given to you’ (Mt 7:7). Then let us consider how.
What is faith? Is it a religion, or is it a belief? Jesus’ answer is it is a belief. He says there can be no limit to the depths of our belief in God. Just having a miniscule of faith is encouraging for believers. As an easy-going people, we New Zealanders may be inclined to accept a miniscule of faith as enough for our role as Catholics. We limit our belief this miniscule gives credence to our peers that we are ‘good’ practising Catholics; attending Mass occasionally, donating to the Church, recommending our Catholic school to friends with young children, and generally responding to requests from the pulpit, providing we consider them reasonable. Is our faith determined by the view
This ‘She’ll be right’ attitude is never good enough. We lack fire in our bellies and knowledge in our minds. We become worriers. We worry about the diminishing attendance at our Masses, blaming this on the shortage of priests. While praying regularly for more vocations to the priesthood our lack of faith causes us to worry why our prayers go answered. Do we fail to notice how the world around us is changing? Many of the presbyteries and convent houses in South Taranaki are rented or sold. Perhaps we need to question the role the Church has for women in the twenty-first century? Is the Holy Spirit answering our prayers for an acceptance of men and women priests in a way we fail to understand? It is up to us, the Church laity, to think deeply and voice our opinion as to the direction we believe the Church must take; this is our duty. Today’s Gospel tells us, servants must work and do it with humility. As Jesus reminds us; ‘We are merely servants; we have done no more than our duty’ (Lk 17:10). Then let us do our duty.
Tom Gibson is a retired dairy farmer and a parishioner at the Immaculate Conception Parish, Stratford.