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Faith is more than a duty, it’s a way of life
Based on Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4, 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14, Lk 17:5-10
On his long journey to Jerusalem, Jesus has been teaching the apostles about God’s kingdom, about himself and what it means to be his disciples. In the verses just before this Sunday’s Gospel, he teaches about temptation and forgiveness.
Perhaps hearing that teaching, as well as his other teachings, the apostles recognize their need for stronger faith than when they first began to follow him. They say to Jesus, “Increase our faith.”
In answer, Jesus explains how powerful faith can be – “faith no bigger than a tiny mustard seed.” A mustard seed is only 1 millimeter in size; that’s the size of the period at the end of this sentence. If we believe, we will see miracles.
Actually, we do see miracles happen every day – babies are born, the sun rises and sets, night turns into day, tadpoles become frogs, caterpillars become butterflies, rain helps crops to grow, and trees shedding their colorful leaves in readiness for winter sleep will sprout green leaves in spring.
Then, Jesus talks about duty. God’s special gift of faith to us and our acceptance of that gift lead us to love God and to share his love with others. It’s not a matter of how much faith we have or if we have enough. It’s not a matter of being good enough or doing enough. With faith and through faith in Jesus, we are to live each day loving and serving God and others as Jesus’ disciples.
The Gospel doesn’t say we shouldn’t pay attention to God’s rules (the Ten Commandments). What it does say is that having kept all the rules and having done everything we are supposed to do, we are only on the brink of what it means to be Jesus’ disciples.
An example: a person goes to Mass on Sunday because it’s one of our “duties” as Catholics. The person is there but isn’t really participating in the Mass with the rest of the community and in union with Jesus on the altar.
All that we have comes from God. All the good we do is a sign of his grace in our lives and acknowledgement that we are God’s children – redeemed, called and equipped to build his kingdom.
To witness our faith to others, we must go beyond duty. Faith gives us power to generously say “yes” to God and to grow stronger in love and in the likeness of Jesus to serve God and others.
It isn’t a matter of increasing our faith; it’s a matter of living our faith!