Today’s Gospel tells the story of the disappointed man who brings his mentally ill son to the apostles for a cure. Because of their little faith, Jesus says, his disciples were not able to help him. Then Jesus challenges them all. "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could move a mountain. Nothing would be impossible for you." Perhaps we have heard the story too many times to still be amazed! How small is a mustard seed? And how large is a mountain?
Today the Church holds up the example of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, more familiar to us as Edith Stein. She was born in Poland to Jewish parents in 1891. In her teens she stopped believing in God and abandoned her Jewish faith to enter the world of academia. She excelled in her pursuit of philosophy and earned a doctorate in 1916. But along the way she discovered the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and began her spiritual journey that led to her baptism at the age of 31. Twelve years later she took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross when she professed her vows as a Carmelite nun. Eventually she transferred to a Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. In 1940, under the occupation of the Nazis, she was arrested and sent to Auschwitz, where she died in the gas chamber on August 9, 1942.
Edith Stein, Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, stands as a dramatic example of mountain moving faith, humble as a mustard seed. In his homily at her canonization Mass in 1998, Pope John Paul II, speaking to young people gathered for the occasion said, "Your life is not an endless series of open doors! Listen to your heart! Do not stay on the surface but go to the heart of things! And when the time is right, have the courage to decide! The Lord is waiting for you to put your freedom in his good hands."
May we too live this day with God’s gift of mighty faith!
Fr. Jim Strommer, C.P. is on the provincial leadership team and lives in Chicago, Illinois.