In our Gospel today, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith (Jesus had just told them that they had to forgive someone seven times in one day and they knew how hard that would be). Jesus’ response about faith the size of a mustard seed was basically saying to them that they HAD faith, they just needed to use it. Another way to say it is this: the disciples asked Jesus to do something for them and Jesus answered, “you have to do it. I can’t do it for you.”
Jesus is presenting faith to us as a verb, not a noun. We do not have faith; we have to practice this kind of faith. Putting faith into action is the way to strengthen it, make it grow, just as exercising a muscle makes it stronger. Jesus is not talking about dogma or theology or what we believe; he is talking about faith that becomes visible and grows stronger when expressed through acts of charity, through forgiveness to those who have wronged us, through paying attention to the forgotten, etc.
Paul was basically saying the same thing in our second reading, when he said to Timothy: “stir into flame the gift of God you have received.” We received that gift of faith in baptism. Paul further identifies it as a spirit of “power and love and self-control.” In other words, we have what we need to be generous, forgiving, and loving to others; we just need to use the gifts God has given us. The more we do that, the “stronger” our faith will be.
Hopefully, as people look at us, they see a faith-filled person showing love of God by love of others, especially those in need. We can ask God to increase our faith, and he WILL accompany us, but we need to do it ourselves by putting the faith we have in practice. Let’s make sure we are doing it!.
Church sign of the week: A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor.