St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Faith is a power

Faith is a power.                                                                          -Homily October 2, 2016

 

I would like to explain the today’s Gospel (Luke 17:5-10) with the help of Aquinas’ Golden Chain.

 

Jesus has just spoken to the apostles about the difficult things that they will find on their way: poverty, scandals, etc. Therefore, the Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith, so that they may be strong. Faith to be poor in spirit: the one who firmly believes in the invisible, is able to detach himself from sinful desires and riches. Faith to resist scandals: those who have a firm faith are able to distinguish the word of the Church from the sins of the members of the Church. They keep their faith, because the teaching of the Church is infallible, despite the fact that her members and even her teachers are sometimes sinners. So the apostles ask for an increase of faith, so that they may be able to overcome the obstacles of Christian life. What is the response of Jesus?

 

1. “If your faith were of the size of a mustard seed…” It is as if Jesus were saying: you have asked well; faith is what you need. Faith is able to do great things. For although it seems a little thing in the eyes of men (like the mustard seed) it contains power even to do miracles. The mustard seed grows and becomes the greatest of shrubs (cf. Matthew 13:32). Like our faith, it is little in appearance, but great in virtue. Our faith is able to uproot the greatest sins from our heart and make them sink into the ocean of the mercy of God; faith is able to uproot the devil and plant him in hell. Faith is powerful to make us poor in spirit in a consumerist world. Faith is powerful to overcome scandals in a church that may sometimes disappoint us with the sins of her children, but is nevertheless built upon the solid rock of the faith of Peter.

 

Our faith is solid because it rests, not on human weakness, but on the rock of the faith of Peter: “You are Peter (= Greek: Pétros), and upon this rock (= Greek: pétra) I will build up my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The faith of Peter is solid because Jesus has prayed for his faith: “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). That is to say, the firmness of your faith will support the firmness of the faith of your brothers and sisters. That is why we believe that the Pope can never teach anything wrong, although he is also a sinner like the rest of us.

 

2. Faith is the power by which we are able to overcome the difficulties of being a Christian. Faith is the power of imitating the works of Jesus, of imitating the works of the saints. Faith adorns our life with virtue, faith makes the life of a Christian something beautiful for others to admire. This may sometimes lead good Christians to pride… and there is no worse pride than the pride of a “good person.” Do you remember the Pharisee who said: “I thank you Lord, because I am not like other people, sinners I fast, I give alms, I am a good guy, not like that tax collector there…”? Jesus doesn’t like people like that. So, in order to prevent us from this pride, he tells us the parable of the slave coming from work, and continues: “So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”

 

Faith is such a great power, is something so beautiful, that Jesus has to warn us about pride… Is that not something? Do we appreciate the gift of faith? Do we try to grow in faith, so that our life may be as beautiful as the life of Jesus, as the life of Mary? But even then, even when we see in our lives a little bit of what Jesus taught, let us remember that faith is a gift, and that all we have, even the possibility of doing good works, comes from our good Lord. Everything comes from our Father in Heaven, who loves us as children and does not spare his gifts.

 

Let us keep faith! Faith is the drink our Lord asked from the Samaritan woman, who was a figure of the Church (cf. John 4). Our faith and good works are the food and drink we servants have to provide to our Lord while we are on earth. How pleasing to the Lord is our faith in a world who does not want a God anymore! What a pleasing banquet we provide to him by keeping our faith, the faith of our parents! Later, after this life, we ourselves will sit down at the table, and he himself will pass on the table and serve, as he said on the Gospel: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:37).

 

May our Blessed Mother intercede for us, so that we may overcome every obstacle with a strong faith. May the Lord increase our faith.  –Fr. Andrew