Do you have faith? A question that many of you probably quickly answered, ‘Well Yes, of course’ I’m here at Church aren’t I’. If you say you have faith, what or who is it that you have faith in? And what exactly does it mean to have faith?
For many people faith is nothing more than a belief in God, a recognition that God exists. However, our readings today help us to understand more in depth what faith really is. As I try to explain more fully what faith entails, I want you to think about if you really have faith to the extent our readings encourage us to have? Faith is much more than just having a belief in God.
The apostles in our Gospel say, “increase our faith”. It is important to know the context of the Gospel to fully understand why the apostles asked for their faith to increase. Our Gospel is from Luke 17, the verses just before our Gospel, is Jesus saying to the apostles that if someone wrongs them 7 times in one day, then they should forgive them. Indeed, we know that it can be difficult to forgive someone, especially if they wrong us over and over again. The apostles understood that faith in God, true faith, gives us the ability to forgive others when they have wronged us, and because it is difficult they asked for their faith to increase.
However, Jesus in our Gospel goes on to say, that “if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea”. A mulberry tree has a deep and strong root system, this is the same analogy of Matthew’s version, saying that if one had the faith the size of a mustard seed, a mountain could to be picked up and moved into the sea. What Jesus is saying is that we, like the apostles, don’t really know the power of faith. For if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, if we had even a little bit of true faith in God, then what is seemingly impossible could be done.
In light of this, do you have faith? If so, what do you have faith in? To have faith partly means to believe in the almighty God. The almighty God is the creator of the entire universe, the earth, the sun, the moon, the planets, stars, and everything is ordered so perfectly that everything rotates at the right speed. Not only has God created the universe but continues to sustain its existence and motion. But God created human beings, able to know the truth of creation, and admire its beauty and perfect organization. In God’s love for humanity, He sent His only Son to save us and restore our friendship with God after humanity chose against Him. God has done and continues to do everything He can to bring about an intimate relationship with Him and prepares every single person to receive salvation. God has a perfect unique plan for every person, whom He knows perfectly and intimately. The all-good God can only will and do what is good for his creation, especially human beings, and only God can bring about good in the midst of evil.
Faith is much more than just believing in God, but to really believe in the almighty, all-powerful, all-loving God means that we believe that God cares intimately about us, He cares and has power to bring about His will for us. Faith means that we surrender our needs, our desires, our every situation, our relationships to Him. It means that we entrust our lives to Him. It means that we surrender our need for a new job, surrender this or that difficult situation, surrender our desire to heal this and that relationship; faith means that we turn the control of our lives over to the all-powerful and all-loving God who knows and wants the best for us. And as we surrender it, we ask God how we can help bring about His will. That we ask Him what we should do in this and that situation, this and that relationship.
In our Gospel, Jesus gives us the analogy of a master-servant relationship. The servant Is the one who helps to bring about the master’s desires. It is the master’s plan, and the servant should simply be grateful that the master wants the servant to help carry it out. Indeed, to really trust our lives to God, to truly let His will be done, and that God allows and calls us to cooperate in our salvation, then indeed, we can say, “I am an unprofitable servant, I have done what I was obliged to do, thank you, Lord”.
To have faith in God means that life is not about you or I, we are not in control, God is. So often we might pray and ask God to help with something; but then we really don’t trust Him, we take the control back, and then might wonder why God didn’t act the way we asked Him to. Listen to our 1st reading from the Prophet Habbakuk, “How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin, why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me”. Haven’t you every prayed that way, wondered why God seems to not be active in your life or care about what you are going through? Then the Lord answered and said, “Write down the vision clearly, for the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not be late”. To really have faith, means that we believe in God who knows and wants to do what is best for us, that he knows the desires of our hearts, and He wants us to pray and surrender our desires and will to Him, to trust him with the control for what we want and need.
A friend of mine once said that our greatest desires and dream for our life, our best plan, is God’s worst plan for our life. God truly knows and wants what is best for us, but yet it is so hard to really trust and surrender our lives to Him. True faith means, as St. Paul says, to surrender to the power already at work in us that can do infinite more than we can even imagine.
Will you join me in praying that our all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God will truly be Lord of our lives, that His will will be done in our lives, that He will do whatever He wants to do in our families, in this parish, that He will be powerful in this country and world. That we will say to Him, “Lord your will be done, and please show me what can I do to help your perfect plan to be accomplished in my life, in my family, parish, country, and so on. Help me to truly surrender and allow You to be in control, and please teach me how to be an instrument, a servant, to your Holy will.