BY: Fr. Karabari Paul



“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

In the first 4 verses just before the Gospel passage of today (Luke 17:5-10), Jesus gives some seemingly difficult demands and the disciples wonder how they can ever meet them. They acknowledge faith as a gift from God that can one in any situation, and ask, “Increase our faith!” They can ask for faith; they can prepare themselves to receive it; but it is God’s to give.

In this Gospel of Luke, faith has been mentioned only five times so far (5:20; 7:9, 50; 8:25, 48). These all relate faith to faithful behaviour, so these disciples might be asking Jesus to help them to remain faithful. But the response of Jesus directly links it to prayer when He says, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you”. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds. Jesus chooses this tiny seed to set up a contrast with the large sycamine tree to demonstrate the great power of even the smallest bit of faith.

In the parallel story in Matthew’s Gospel, the disciples failed to heal an epileptic boy, and Jesus says that their failure was one of faith (Matthew 17:20). And if we follow Matthew, Jesus means, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, which you do not yet have….”

But the required faith is faith in God; not faith in self or money or weapons or raw power or people. The power behind the faith that Jesus mentions here is God’s power, and it is faith in God that allows us to appropriate that power.

In Matthew’s version of this story, the more familiar one, speaks of moving a mountain instead of uprooting a tree. In Luke’s version, Jesus speaks of uprooting a sycamore tree probably a large tree, and planting it in the sea. The point is that faith, even in small quantities, has great power. The person of faith taps into God’s power, which makes all things possible even moving trees (difficult) and causing them to grow in saltwater (impossible). It is not our faith that works these wonders, but the God who stands behind our faith. Our faith has value only because God blesses faith and empowers the faith

How, then, do we get this powerful faith? 1)The disciples had it right; faith is the gift of God, so we can pray that God will increase our faith. Time spent in prayer is fundamental to faith development but there are also other things that we can do to cooperate with God, who wants to increase our faith.

2). Association with people of faith builds faith, so our participation in the worship and life of the church and her sacraments is important.

3).The scriptures inform and correct our faith. Without the guidance of the scriptures, we tend to have faith in something smaller than God; money, a charismatic person, the government or something that will ultimately disappoint us. The scriptures keep drawing us to God so that we can develop the kind of powerful faith of which Jesus speaks here.

4).We grow in faith as we act in faith. Every gift of God is strengthened by the exercise of it, and this is true of faith. It is this aspect of our faith that St Paul is emphasising in the Second Reading (2Tim. 1:6-5, 13-14).

Sometimes, faith involves long waiting. The ability to wait and not go ahead of God is still part of the exercise of faith. Sometimes God says, ‘Wait’. Nobody really likes waiting. The truth is God won’t change His mind to accommodate us. So we have two options: 1) Keep complaining to Him. 2) Start cooperating with Him. When the prophet Habakkuk in the First Reading (1:2-3; 2:2-4) needed an answer to his prayers in order to give direction to Israel, God told him to wait. ‘“Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end — it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.’ (v.2-3 ). God works according to His own plan and schedule, and we can not rush Him. When we try to get ahead of Him, we will end up in trouble. Sometimes God answers our prayers with ‘No’. He knows what we can handle and when we will be ready to handle it, and He won’t give it to us before then. In the end, the righteous shall live by his faith. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God grant us increased faith to be faithful to Him and overcome every situation that confronts us through Christ Our Lord Amen. Happy Celebration.

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