The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 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!'"
In a secular world, where a sense of nihilism is pervasive and the “death of God” first proposed by Nietzsche becomes a slogan, faith is replaced with reason. However, the irony is that no explanation is required by those who believe; and for those who do not believe, it is impossible to explain. This is because all miracles and beliefs are grace of God. We, humans, can only give thanks and be surprised.
Belief is a grace from God. At the beginning of today’s Gospel passage, the apostles said to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” They knew that they did not have much faith and that they could not rely on themselves to increase the faith. So they turned to Jesus asking for help.
In today’s first reading, prophet Habakkuk complained to God and asked for help. God replied: “Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith (Habakkuk 2:4). St. Paul also said in his letter to the Romans: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, The one who is righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:17).”
For those whose spirit is not right in them are people who are not honest to their own conscience and God, thus they do not accept faith. On the other hand, those who do not rely on their reasoning but on God, grace will be bestowed to them to increase their faith.
To believe in Jesus is to believe what are taught in the Gospels and by the Holy Church. That is Jesus is the Son of God conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of Mary. He is our Saviour who was crucified on the cross, died, and was buried under Pontius Pilate; on the third day he rose again. Through His Holy Church, he is present among us.
To believe in Jesus is to believe what he taught, such as God is our Father, who loves the meek and humble. His commandment is to love God and love our neighbour. If we believe in Jesus, we also believe the authority of the Holy Church.
To believe in Jesus is to rely on him in all things because he is the way, life, truth, forgiveness and salvation. We totally commit ourselves to him as what St. Peter said, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
We do not keep our faith in our hearts. We also manifest our faith in our deeds as Jesus calls on us, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).”
Being a Christian, we are servants of our faith to serve others. Servants are charged with various duties, which are to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord. Praising is the highest form of our prayer and serving is the fruit of our prayer.
There our faith can grow through prayer which is really about reverencing God and serving others. Prayer is a general term covering meditation, contemplation, reflection, retreat, lectio divina, singing hymns, reading Bible and sharing. At the same time, we should also be aware of the power of the Holy Spirit, which is love. Love is about action and sharing. We share what we have received from God. Amen.