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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Living the Answers


mustard_seed_faith“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here immediately and take your place at table”? Would he not rather say to him, “Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished”? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do”’” (Luke 17:5-10).
 
Some students quickly figure out ways to do as little as possible while earning as high grades as they can. “Is this going to be on the test?” they ask in every class. Idealistic, dedicated professors find such questions exasperating, as if the knowledge they impart can simply be distilled down to a single exam in which students simply regurgitate information.
 
In this story Jesus is much like a professor. His top-flight students, the apostles, are seeking the gift of faith. He tells them something they may not want to hear: you who have been blessed are expected to do so much more. Don’t expect to be praised because you have done the barest minimum.
 
What Jesus expects is nothing less than the integration of our faith into all aspects of life. We who have been privileged to receive that saving message of Jesus can’t rest on our laurels. Luke is recalling the challenges of true discipleship — much more than doing just enough to get by. There are ways of nourishing this integration: personally through honest prayer and communally through our participation in the Sunday Eucharist, by service and by sharing faith.
 
If only we had faith as small as a mustard seed, we wouldn’t simply meet the barest minimum requirements: weekly Mass attendance and an occasional prayer uttered in a crisis. Instead, we would be on fire with faith and it would transform our lives. Its truth would grow in us, slowly and tentatively at first but eventually consuming us if we let it. In this test, we can’t be satisfied with just learning the answers. We will have to live them as well.
 
– In whose faith do you see evidence of a “faith the size of a mustard seed?”
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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