The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith in the same way we might ask a doctor for a vitamin B boost when our bodies feel run down. Did they think that more faith would make them feel stronger, more resilient, more trusting, and more able to navigate life’s challenges? Or did they expect that an extra dose of faith would allow them to have more control over what they were facing?
Their request seems reasonable enough. More faith would mean more power and ability to do their work. But Jesus’ response shows that they have missed his point. Although their faith is outwardly small and insignificant, it is all that they need to accomplish what God calls them to do.
When we encounter life’s frustrations, it is tempting to think that more faith would make the troubled waters smoother. This logic leads to teachings like this: “If you have enough faith, you will be healed” or “If you had more faith, your finances would be sorted out.” But Jesus teaches that we don’t need to be given more faith; we need to act on the faith we have. To Jesus, faith is reflected in things like love, hope, compassion, responsibility, self-care, empathy, honesty, and humility. These acts of faith are what pull us through, not the over-the-counter doses of faith that the apostles requested.
We need to trust God when God asks us to move forward by taking what may appear to be small and insignificant steps. That is what Jesus’ kind of faith is about.
Almighty God, I hear you asking me to do small things, such as asking for advice or seeking assistance from others. Help me understand, Lord, that being open to the small things is a significant act of faith. Amen.
Lamentations opens with a description of the plight of the people of Judah, the southern kingdom. The people have been taken into exile as part of God’s judgment for their idolatry. The psalmist struggles to sing the songs of the Lord. In fact, those who overthrew Jerusalem have forced them to sing for their amusement, so the joy is gone. The psalmist prays that one day God will repay the invaders. In Second Timothy, Paul praises God for Timothy’s faith and for the legacy of faith that comes through his family. He charges him to preach boldly and without hesitation the gospel of Christ. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges the disciples to show greater faith and to understand that we are all servants in God’s kingdom.
Read Lamentations 1:1-6. How do you allow your imperfections and failings to transform you?
Read Psalm 137. How do you remember your spiritual traditions and sacred places? How do you look for God’s work in change?
Read 2 Timothy 1:1-14. What spiritual practices help you to “guard the good treasure entrusted to you”?
Read Luke 17:5-10. How might a posture of cyclical servanthood to and with all creation transform or increase your faith?
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