Doesn’t it just drive you nuts when you ask a friend for help and he (or she) doesn’t do anything but agree that you need the help? In Gospel reading, the apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. And we lean forward in our seats, eager to hear the answer. Tell us, Jesus, tell us! What’s the key to greater faith?
But instead of preaching a good homily on “10 Keys to Stronger Faith,” Jesus tells us how poor our faith is. I can’t uproot a tree by praying over it, can you? Gee, thanks for the discouragement, Lord. Seems like we all have faith that’s smaller than the itty bitty mustard seed.
Well, the fact is, there is no key to stronger faith. There is no secret method, no special formula. It’s a way of life. It involves staying closely connected to the Spirit of God. Faith is not something that we can build up; faith is purely a gift of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 12:9). To the extent that we’re in communion with Christ’s Spirit, that’s the extent to which our faith can uproot trees.
Oh-oh. I just went outside and stood in front of a palm tree (I live in Florida) and commanded it to uproot itself, but nothing happened. I guess I’m not in a very good relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Seriously, rather than look for the miraculous, we should ask Jesus: “What sin needs to be uprooted from me? Or what doubt? What distrust in You?”
Whenever we focus on the difficulties of life, fear begins to take root in us. We start worrying that the problem is going to end in disaster. The solution? Climb back onto God’s fatherly lap and pray about it. Remember that fear is a liar (think of it this way: F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real). Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you, which is usually the exact opposite of what the fear is telling you. Then you’ll able to endure the trial with hope instead of anxiety.
This is what Jesus meant by having faith large enough to uproot trees. The moment we turn to the Holy Spirit for help, we connect ourselves to his faith (which is infinitely larger than a mustard seed) and we are renewed in his faith as a gift. Our faith is stronger because God’s faith is activated within us.
To increase our faith, we only have to increase our connectedness to the Spirit of God. Listen! The Spirit of Truth is instructing you.
© 2016 by Terry A. Modica