27th Sunday C – Luke 17: 5-10
Lord, Increase our Faith
The apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith. They weren’t asking for more doctrines to believe. They wanted a better sense of trust in and loyalty to God, especially when he had just told them to forgive everybody. Like their fellow Jews, the apostles had a sense of God about them and were accustomed, like Habakkuk in the first reading, to pleading with God for help. They were asking for a greater sense of God’s track record of rescuing his people from peril, as when he rescued them from Egypt and Babylon centuries earlier.
The late Michael Paul Gallagher SJ, who spent most of his life analysing faith and observing it in people, often said that a sense of wonder and mystery fosters faith. Our relationship with God is one in which mind, heart and imagination have a role to play. Faith begins when we allow our hearts to be touched by beauty, or whatever draws us into mystery. The psalms, which we Catholics don’t use much in prayer (but should!) are running over with images that allow our hearts to be touched and constantly nourished.
“By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us and moulds us” said Fr de Chardin in The Divine Milieu. For this to happen our imaginations need to be woken up. To enter that world is to approach every created thing with a sense of awe and wonder. Our scripture and our liturgy are full of images that tell us who we are and who God is: exodus and Easter, oil and water, bread and wine. These images have power to transform lives, but only for those who choose them.
Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you. Jesus’ parables are like metaphors (not to be taken literally or in a moralistic sense) that reveal us to ourselves and reveal something of who or what God is. Imagine walking down a street and there’s a wild-looking character coming towards you. His grey hair is matted. His dense beard is yellow with grime. His small darting eyes are as volatile as a hawk’s. You look once and think ‘addict’. You look twice and think John the Baptist. You look again…and sense Jesus. Suddenly your relationship to the man has changed. A mulberry tree was uprooted…..
Fr. QQ – 09/30/2022