October 1, 2016
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed…” (Luke 17:6)
Faith is not a big thing, grand and imposing, which eliminates all doubt and fear and trembling with its bold and clamorous certitude. This would be false security. Rather, faith is tiny, fragile, seemingly insignificant amidst the great anxieties of life – and it is meant to be this way. We do not need more faith, bigger faith, enough faith to fill all available space. What we need is to allow that little seed to germinate in the empty spaces of our life.
It grows in secret, unbeknownst to us, hidden in the dark earth, until the moment when it comes forth into light, vulnerable, but growing toward maturity. Perhaps I need to accept that the seed of faith is always falling among rocks and weeds. It is always threatened, always the underdog. In so many ways, it could be lost, trampled, uprooted, or choked by the vicissitudes of life and fail to produce fruit. Like the human body God took to himself, and like the bread he took to become his body, this seedling, this skinny little sapling is weak, contingent and biodegradable.
“For power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)
It was St Francis who said: “Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Without faith, everything is impossible. St Benedict speaks of faith as the willingness to take on an impossible task (RB 68). When all is said and done, life is the impossible task set before each one of us. With faith the size of a mustard seed (or smaller) there is always some little step that can be taken toward life, love and freedom, some concrete act that will advance the kingdom by a hairsbreadth. And one day we may suddenly, without warning, find ourselves at the foot of a tree, with large branches stretching out to give refuge to all.
“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tm 1:7)