Increase our Faith

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 17:5-10.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 
The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 
Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? 
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? 
So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'” 

Reflection
Having administered several computer networks in the course of my life, there is always that one irritating complaint that I have to address every time for as long as I am in the Philippines. People often would complain of slow internet connection. The disciples request to Jesus is very much like the wish of internet subscribers in the Philippines. Increase our bandwidth. Increase our faith.

Very much so since, being connected to the internet and enjoying the benefits of the World Wide Web, social media, streaming, and downloading files is analogous to our connection with God. We just need to have faith. It is through faith that we are connected to God. It is not a faith that we worked for ourselves. No, home subscribers don’t put up their wires to link with internet service providers (ISP’s) like Globe and PLDT. The ISP’s provide the connection in the same way that God provided us the connection. He gave us faith. He revealed Himself to us and allowed us to commune with Him. Without the initiative on the side of God we would never have known God. Thus, faith is a gift.

The Church would teach that faith is one of the three theological virtues alongside hope and love. These three are given to us by God, infused in us, at our Baptism. Baptism is that sacrament that opens us to a personal relationship with God. It is right then for the apostles to ask for an upgrade in their link to God. Increase our faith. They knew how important faith is in our relationship with God.

What then is faith? The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews would say “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NRSV). It is putting our trust and confidence in a truth. Faith is when we believe and hold on to the words of other people even without proof and concrete evidence. We believe that there’s a country named United States and its American people even if we haven’t been physically there. Yet in the context of Christianity it is not just any word. It is the Word. Faith is our trust, confidence, and belief in Jesus Christ, the Word-made-flesh. It is something so radical and challenging but at the same time powerful that allows us to make a gamble even with our lives.

This is where faith is a response. It is our response to the invitation of Jesus to a personal relationship with Him. Having presented Himself to us, He challenges us to put faith in Him. Yet this faith is not just an interior act of believing. It is something that naturally expresses itself from the heart to visible signs. Faith is seen in the way we live our lives, in our works of charity, in the way we treat others, in the way we pray, in the way we celebrate the sacraments and practice our devotions, and in the way we spend quality time to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on Sundays.

Like our experience of slow internet connection in the Philippines, like the way YouTube takes forever to buffer and play, like the way Facebook is all messed up in the browser, we know that our faith is sometimes lacking. We doubt. We question God. We question ourselves. It is right then to join the apostles to ask the Lord to increase our faith. To recognize that it is only in Him that we can find the Truth and assurance of everlasting joy. There is nothing to boast of when we practice our faith. As unprofitable servants, we only believe inasmuch faith grace has planted in us and have been allowed to grow by us.

Trusting in the Lord’s assurance, we know that no matter how small our faith is, no matter how slow our connection to God is, God will make most of our faith. Jesus, the Master and the source of our faith, will work through us and in us.



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