Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 2, 2016
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortex, F.S.C.B.

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“If you have faith!” (Lk 17:6).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says one thing: We do not have faith!

Jesus tells us that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we would command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey us. I do not know if you have ever seen a mustard seed but I have. Some are very small, smaller than a pinhead, like a grain of dust. In another passage from Matthew’s Gospel, when the disciples were asking Jesus why they could not perform a miracle, he answered: “Because you have no faith.” There Jesus said that not only would a mulberry obey our orders but even a mountain: “If your faith is the size of a mustard seed you will say to this mountain: ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt 7:20). Once the disciples were amazed because Jesus had cursed a fig tree, causing it to wither, and Jesus said: “In truth I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt at all, not only will you do what I have done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be pulled up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. And if you have faith, everything you ask for in prayer, you will receive” (Mt 21:21–22).

Mulberry trees and mountains in the air, flying into the sea! What chaos we would create if we had faith!

Certainly, Jesus is not telling us to practice magic. However, with these images he wants to show us that first, we do not have faith; second, we need and could have faith; and third, with faith we could do impossible things.

Why is faith so important? We find the answer in the first reading: “The just one, because of his faith, shall live.” Faith makes us alive. We could surely survive without faith. Nevertheless, could we truly live without faith? The life that faith gives us is a full life, a different kind of life: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10).

When Jesus is talking about doing impossible things, he is talking about this fullness of life, life here and in eternity.

We all desire to live and to live abundantly. That is why faith should be so important for us. Faith should be our paramount concern!

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. XXVIII, where it is talking about the characteristics of the faith, says: “[…] Faith is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it.”

We received this gift of faith on the day of our baptism. We need to renew it constantly, as Saint Paul said to his disciple Timothy: “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands” (2 Tm 1:6). “To stir into flame” is what we are supposed to do.

“If you have faith!”

We do not have faith at all! As with the disciples, faith is something that is lacking in our lives!

However, what did the disciples do? The Gospel says: “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith’” (Lk 17:5). We have to do the same. We have to approach and supplicate Our Lord: “Increase our faith!” We need what we do not have, so we implore God. Moreover, He will answer because God always answers.

“If you have faith!”

We ask the Lord through Mary, to whom the impossible happened because she believed: “Lord, increase our faith.”  Amen.

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