Saturday, August 8, 2009

If You Have Faith The Size Of A Mustard Seed . . .

The message of Moses in today’s first reading (Deuteronomy 6:4-13) is not intended just for the Israelites of the generation that left Egypt and entered the Promised Land under his leadership. That message could just as well be spoken to the people of today. We need to take to heart the words which Jesus proclaimed as the greatest of the commandments: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD alone. Therefore, you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

We need to take these words to heart, and teach them to our children. We need to speak of them at home and away from home, whether we are busy, or at rest. Observant Jews of our own generation bind them in tefillim, which they bind to their wrists, wear on their foreheads, and write on the doorposts of their homes and the gates of their estates.

In the book of Deuteronomy, the LORD reminds the people of Israel never to forget where they came from, and how long they struggled in the desert before He allowed them entry into the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. It is so easy to forget the struggle when life gets easy. That is why we need to be reminded of how far we can stray from God’s will if we neglect to include him in our daily lives.

In today’s gospel, (Matthew 17:14-20) a man approaches Jesus, kneels before him, and begs: “Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic, and suffers severely. He often falls into the fire, or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could do nothing to cure him.”

Jesus replied, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I remain with you?” Then he said, “Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, which left the boy, and from that moment, he was healed.

The disciples of Jesus are surprised that they cannot dislodge the demon from the man’s son, but Jesus heals him with no trouble at all. So, they ask him why, and he answers, “Because you have so little faith. If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to the mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it would move. Nothing would be impossible for you.” We make similar errors in judgment, and we need the reminders that come in the form of Scripture readings, and also in the form of trials and tribulations. Today, we are reminded to grow in faith by loving the LORD our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength. That sounds pretty simple, but sometimes it doesn’t take much to shake our confidence – not in God, but in ourselves! That is why we need the little reminders that come our way, Whether today, this week, for the past year, or altogether, our life hasn't been  going quite the way we would like it to go.

If you have faith the size of a mustard seed (and they are not very large seeds) you can move mountains.  Jesus doesn't say everything will be good all the time.  Remember that Teresa of Avila complained to Jesus about her physical, emotional and spiritual difficulties:  "Teresa, this is the way I treat my friends", was His response.  And her retort is a classic:  "Then, it's no wonder you have so few!"

Keep in mind these words from Romans 8:28: For those who love God, and are called in his plan, everything works out for the good.   

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