27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
“IF YOU HAD FAITH AS A GRAIN OF MUSTARD”
On the 5th of July 2013, Pope Francis released his first Encyclical titled “Lumen Fidei”(The Light of Faith). What great joy it brought the Church, with the new Pope completing the cycle of Encyclicals on the three Theological virtues started by his predecessor. Pope Benedict XVI had formerly released two Encyclicals on Love and Hope: “Deus Caritas Est” (God is Love) and “Spe Salvi” (Saved in Hope).
The Lumen Fidei was a clarion call for humanity to rediscover the light of faith. The modern world has seen Faith as a weak option for Reason, thereby chasing all shades of light cast on the world by their incomplete reasoning which has resulted in a total catastrophe. The Holy Father, echoing Fides et Ratio, teaches that where Reason cannot lead us, Faith can.The disciples of Jesus, faced with the difficult teaching on forgiveness saw the need for faith, thus they cried out to the Lord, “increase our faith”. Clearly they not only discovered their deficiency in faith but also their helplessness, hence they turned to Jesus. The response given by Jesus requires attention, “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”. This statement casts a doubt on the faintest presence of faith in the disciples- if the minimal requirement to move mountains was as little as a grain of mustard. However, the choice of the tiny mustard grain against the strong and deep rooted Sycamine was to tell the disciples the great power in faith compared to the difficulty of obeying God’s word. Thus, the greatest challenges of life can easily be changed by words of faith “if you (only) had faith as a grain of mustard seed”. Just as the disciples cried out to Jesus in their crisis of faith, so did the prophet Habbakuk in the first reading. Habbakuk was a 7th Century prophet who prophesied at the time of the Babylonian Exile. An important aspect of his prophecy is his dialogue with God. He questioned God’s inaction in the face of tribulations and God gave him answers. Faith is tested in times of trouble. The situation the prophet found himself is not different from that of many Christians. Many Christian nations, communities and peoples have experienced different kinds of trials in their journey of faith. Sometimes, people are driven to the verge of giving up on that light of faith and clinging to human reason. But the words of Jesus remains a big encouragement, “if you had faith as a grain of mustard…” There is need, therefore, to seek for this faith and to ensure its growth. The disciples relied on Jesus. Habbakuk cried to God. In our trials of faith we must rely on God. Faith breeds hope and trust. We must learn to trust God and to commune with him in times of difficulties, doubts and hoplessness and we must ensure that our faith does not run dry.Faith is a gift of God which must be fanned into flame, as Paul says to Timothy. May God continue to increase the FAITH of all believers that they may forever trace their paths in the light of faith like Mary and Abraham, through Christ the Lord, amen.
-Fr. Precious Ezeh