Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Posted on November 10, 2022 View all Gospel Reflection

Hebrews 11:1 calls faith “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.”

Faith does involves trust, as Donald Baillie illustrates:

Take the case of a small child in nursery school. The little fellow is taken into the room where the teacher is, and left in her care. But she is strange to him, he does not trust her, but looks distantly at this strange woman from the opposite corner of the room. She wins his confidence by words, gestures, and smiles until at last the little fellow’s mistrust is melted away, and he crosses the floor to sit beside her.

[Source: Measure of faith: 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10 by John Rollefson September 21, 2004].

The Greek word for “Increase our faith” in Luke 17:5 is “prostihemi” from which we get the word prosthetic. E.g. Hip Prosthesis is the surgery of Hip replacement.

When the apostles said “increase our faith” they were essentially asking for a crutch. They were saying, “We can’t do this on our own. Give us something to lean on as support.

One Sunday a Protestant minister asked the congregation the question “Are there any members of the congregation here today who have an unshakable faith, if so, would those persons please stand up?”

The minister said, “To my immense bafflement, and somewhat to my chagrin, a young man about twenty years old rose to his feet. I knew this young man. He was sitting with his parents and two younger siblings. He rarely came to the parish church these days because his relationship to his folks through his teen years had been so stormy that he moved out early, took up residence in the next town, dropped out of high school, and now worked for Pizza Hut. After acknowledging his admirable faith, I somehow recovered my rhetorical thread—my little ploy having failed miserably—and pressed on with my sermon on faith.”

The minister continued, saying, “But the reason I remember this incident so vividly was not because this religiously confident young man stole my thunder but because a year and a half later he was dead from a drug overdose.”

 [Source: Increase Our Faith! Julia Gatta, Sewanee Theological Review 48:1, 2004].

Faith comes from a divinely infused supernatural virtue, but the power to accomplish difficult things comes from the material object of faith which is what the Church teaches or the content of faith.

For example, in paragraph 2291 it says the use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life and is a grave offense except for legitimate medicine, and clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs is direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.

God has already revealed this, the Church just points it out.

Church teaching illuminates the inherent structure of any act of believing.

You can’t order mulberry trees to be “Uprooted” and planted in the sea by whispering at them through a generic confidence of God.

However, if you are just a little bit convicted by what God has revealed, a mustard seed of faith, you can do difficult things that seem almost impossible.