"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed . . . "
Word for Sunday: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100216.cfm
Habakkuk 1: 2-3, 2: 2-4
Tm 1: 6-8, 13-14
Lk 17: 5-10
Some people love details. They tend to focus on what may seem the smallest minutia in order to accomplish a task. Thank God for architects and engineers whose drawings and design must be exact down to the finest lines and measurements.
On this Respect Life Sunday and the beginning of October in which we are asked to honor the sanctity of human life, we must not forget that God’s infinite creation involves the tinniest of details. Designed with mind boggling complexity of living organisms composed of intricate DNA, cells, atoms, in a fragile balance of life, in an ordered universe that may appear random and at times violent to us, God has created beauty and mystery. We believe that among all that has come into existence, the human being is at the top of it all. In the story of creation from the Book of Genesis God saved the best for the last – human life created on the sixth day, in the “image of God he created them; male and female.”
Today’s readings both from Paul to Timothy and the Gospel of Luke, we hear of details, growth and reverence. Paul writes to Timothy, “I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give you a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim. 1: 6-7). The young Bishop, ordained by Paul, is encouraged to recognize the seed of the gift given to him and is reminded to care for it; to allow its growth and to use it for the good of the Church.
The Apostles ask Jesus, “. . . Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’” (Lk 17: 5-6). Who wouldn’t want a stronger faith? Is the tiny size of a mustard seed all we need or is God asking for more? Certainly the Apostles better than anyone knew that following Jesus was becoming increasingly more of a challenge. They witnessed his miracles, they heard his teaching about “love your enemies and do good to those who hate you,” and they knew that despite the overwhelming admiring crowds, there were enough in power who were threatened and determined to stop him. Only with stronger faith could they maintain their loyalty to Jesus. Isn’t the same true for us?
We find ourselves planted firmly in a society that is enamored by everything new. Technology, for all of its benefits, is exponential. There is no end to the possibilities and it has created a society of artificial communication. We treasure (worship?) what we want, we will stand in line for hours to get it, and we will obsess over the latest gadget. But life, in all of its stages from conception to natural death, sometimes seems less gratifying, efficient or instantaneous. We treasure our cell phones, I-pods, computers, I-pads, social networks why? Because they give us instant pleasure, immediate communication, and let’s face it, look pretty cool!
Yet, among all that we hold dear, the gift of human life is a treasure that cannot be replaced.
Whether it be the unborn child, the infant in the arms of its mother, the disabled, the poor, the immigrant without a home, the imprisoned, the elderly or dying, there is no form of technology that could surpass human life in value or importance.
Faith like that of a mustard seed is not where we stop. Faith that grows, is watered, nurtured, and tended carefully is the only way that we will come to see the treasure that is in each of us, made in the image and likeness of God.
Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect of Sunday)