Daily Reflection – 11/13/2023
Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” And 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. (Luke 17:1-6)
The apostles in today’s scripture ask to have their faith increased. Jesus, in return, offers hope by pointing out that a little faith is sufficient if we just let it grow.
The apostles knew the power of faith, but they were treating it as an abstract. Similar to many people. The reality is that faith is not an abstract. It is far from an abstract.
Faith is not given to us in a packet to be spent as currency in our dealings with God. Faith is not a thing we have or get. Faith is a relationship of trust and love. It means opening ourselves to receive another’s life and giving our life to another. That other one is Jesus the Christ. That one faith relationship is determinative of who we are and how we live.
We are called to live in Christ. That’s a tall order! But it’s the heart of Christianity. As humans, it seems almost impossible. But it’s not the goal. We don’t reach it and then congratulate ourselves for winning the objective. It’s an ongoing process that goes on and on. Each day, we strive to live in Christ, we come closer to Him. Each day, we grow stronger in our ability to love Him more than the “things” of this life. The stronger our faith grows, the easier it becomes to live His commands/
Faith will not change the circumstances of our lives. Instead, it changes us. Living in faith does not shield us from the pain and difficulties of life, it does not undo the past, and it will not guarantee a particular future. Rather, faith is the means by which we face and deal with the circumstances of life – the difficulties and losses, the joys and successes, the opportunities, and possibilities.
The key here is to understand that faith is practiced day after day in everyday circumstances. Some days when the pain and heaviness of life seem more than we can carry, our faith, relationship with Jesus, allows us to get up each morning and face the reality of life. Other days present other circumstances. When we feel the pain of the world and respond with compassion by feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, speaking for justice; when we experience the brokenness of a relationship and offer forgiveness and mercy; when we see the downtrodden and offer our presence and prayers – that’s living out our faith relationship with Jesus.
Jesus uses the example of a mustard seed. To allow the mustard seed of faith to grow in our lives, we need to provide it with fertile soil. That “soil” is our hearts. How can faith grow if we carry malice in our hearts? How can faith grow if we spend part of everyday criticizing another? How can faith grow if we refuse to accept the fact that every person is created by God and our equal? How can our faith grow when we will not let go of a grudge against another or refuse to forgive another? How can faith grow if we live each day negatively and use language that is, in fact, violent?
We can never know the liberating power of faith alive in our lives if we haven’t learned to forgive. But we must.
If we can muster up the strength to forgive another in His name, then we will notice something else about our faith. It grows because we are surrounded by people who are seeking to live their faith.
When we look at ourselves as isolated creatures, our faith is small, very small. But Jesus tells us is that when we feel the smallness of our faith, then it is time that we draw upon the faith of others. When we become discouraged about the world around us, it is time to look at the people in our life who we love and who can give us energy and hope. If we lose our job or our health, it is not time to go it alone. It is time to draw upon the strength of the people who respect and support us. When we doubt whether there really is a heaven, it is time that we turn to the people around us whose faith is stronger than ours and draw on their strength.
Faith, then, is how we live; the lens through which we see ourselves, others, and the world; the criterion by which we act and speak. We live by faith recognizing that our relationship with Jesus is an iterative process that draws us closer to him. The closer we draw to Him, the more we are changed. The power of each of us growing our faith would, if we allow it, change the world. Jesus believes that. So should we.
Prayer of The Day
“I believe in you, Lord Jesus, as the only one who can fill my heart. I believe in the power of faith to change my life and the lives of others. I trust that you will grant me the light and strength to cast out sin in my life. I come to you in prayer so that I can love you even more with a firm but serene opposition to sin. “
As we grow in love, we grow in holiness. As we grow in holiness, we begin to become the very people that God intends us to be We live in love and our shadow of love creates a better place for each one of us.