27th Sunday - homily
Faith, no matter how small, can produce great things. I’ll give two examples. The first involves a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who has been ordained for about ten years. When he was in college, he was much more into the party scene than he was into faith and good works. As he has said, he had little faith in college. Then, after college, he began to get more involved in the Church and his faith grew to the point that he entered seminary and then priesthood. His first parish assignment was to a parish that, for all intents and purposes, was a dead parish. Nothing was really going on there. Even the pastor had fallen away from his prayer life and didn’t have much going on in his ministry.
Through the example of this young priest’s holiness, zeal, love for Christ and the Eucharist, the parish began to come to life. The pastor began to pray more and his priesthood was revitalized. It was really amazing to hear all that went on in that parish. This priest, who had such little faith, has done great things in that parish and two others.
Another example is a woman named Constance who was a model. She had a very successful modeling career for about ten years. During most of that time, she, too, had very little faith. But she began to yearn for God because she found the life of a model to be very empty and hollow. She began to get more involved in the Church. She left modeling and is now a missionary for the Church. She goes all over the world giving talks to youth about chastity, dignity, and respect. She had such little faith, but it has led to great works.
At the point of the story in today’s Gospel, the Apostles have very little faith. Jesus says that their faith is so small that it’s not even the size of a tiny mustard seed! But, he is making the point that no matter how small their faith is, they can do great works. The Apostle would go on to do great works, spreading the Gospel to the whole world, ultimately. In the process their faith increased.
It is interesting, though, that when the Apostles ask Him about faith, Christ talks about works. Our Protestant brothers and sisters stress “faith alone” and not “faith and works”. They say that faith alone will get us to Heaven and we don’t need to focus on works. Yet, Jesus emphasizes the importance of doing good works; St. Paul, St. John, the early Christians, and the modern Church continue the teaching of faith and works.
Many people have asked me since I’ve been here, ‘Father, how do I increase my faith?’ I think we can infer that Jesus is saying that one way to increase your faith is to do good works. He gives the parable to stress the importance of doing our duty as Christian servants. As we see from the priest, the model, the Apostles, and hopefully in our own lives, our faith increases in the process of doing good works. Our little mustard-sized faith can grow into the largest tree in the forest, as Jesus points out elsewhere in the Gospel.
Our primary duty as Christian servants is to come here, to come to Mass. It is our duty and obligation to come to the Eucharist every Sunday. Through the grace of this sacrament and every sacrament, our faith increases. The more grace we receive, the more our faith increases. Also, the Eucharist propels us to do good works throughout the week. As we receive the Body and Blood of our Lord, let us be open to the Lord and ask Him to increase our faith and help us to do great works as his servants.