“Lord, increase our faith….” Is such a profound request by the disciples following Jesus’ teaching, because to truly live out what he suggests demands that our faith be strengthened. Frankly, unless we can better understand the mystery that our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3), his teaching makes no sense. We are told that sin never leaves us in this life; just like the parable of the weeds among the wheat, sin is to accompany us until the day we see God as followers of Christ—as we discern how to act.
What I find very tricky is the idea that I am “to rebuke” my brother when he sins; this feels as if I’m sitting in judgement on him. Even more challenging can be the infinite opportunities to forgive. This—forgiveness—can actually be seen as weakness, especially in our current culture where strong words of retribution flood and contaminate the airwaves. At the very least this can keep us off balance. Further, we may fear our voice will be drowned out; maybe we risk being dropped from our group of friends. This was true when Luke wrote to his audience and remains true today. So why even bother? No wonder the disciples asked for an increase of faith!
“Faith is letting God be God in your life,” says Fr. Bruno DeSouza C.P. of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center. It is an individual gift cultivated by prayer and surrender to God. It is knowing experientially that “the Spirit of the Lord fills the world and is all-embracing.” It is beholding all that is beautiful and tending to the holy in our midst as our first reading suggests. Letting go of all that contaminates our soul in these confusing times opens us up to savor the gift of life with thankful hearts; our Manna from heaven for today.
“Faith is stepping out into the unknown with nothing but a hand just beyond our grasp.” Fredrick Buechner
Faith helps us believe that God is present filling and embracing the whole world—somehow, someway—even as we witness acts of senseless violence and family discord. So, let us press on intentionally, to cultivate all that is true and pure in our hearts. Then we will know how to act in all situations by bringing the love of Christ to life. I believe what Christ is really saying here once again is to, “love one another.”
Lord Jesus, ignite in each of us the seed of love planted before the foundation of the world as we were formed in the silence of our mother’s womb.
May we set the world on fire with your love, today. Amen.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.