Increase our Faith
(27th Ordinary Sunday: Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4; 2 Timothy 1: 6-14; Luke 17:5-10)
When the apostles asked Jesus, “Increase our faith,” they were implying two things: first, that they already had it; and second, that it was his responsibility to improve it.
Why would they expect him to do that? Surely they themselves were accountable. Jesus’ reply seems almost to say that their faith, if genuine, was perfectly adequate.
Still, there are some basic practices that can increase. or even restore faith. At La Salette, Mary reminds us of simple morning and night prayers, keeping holy the Lord’s day, observing the discipline of Lent.
She says, “If they are converted,”—which might include, for example, receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation on a monthly basis. Our Weeping Mother suggests, as Jesus did with the mustard seed, that if our faith is genuine, we would see wonders: rocks turned into heaps of wheat, and potatoes self-sown in the fields. Conversion can always be deeper. Faith can always be stronger. Though the Lord looks kindly on our efforts, they are never good enough without his help.
In the second reading, St. Paul says much the same to Timothy when he writes, “Guard this rich trust [God’s gift] with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in its very first paragraph, describes this gift: “God…, in a plan of sheer goodness, freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.”
In the first reading, when Habakkuk seems to be on the verge of despair, the Lord promises him, “The just one, because of his faith, shall live.” Constancy, therefore, is essential to growth in our life of faith.
So, too, is humility. We see this in the second part of the gospel, a parable about servants.
In this passage, Jesus is telling us that we are called to do more; it is not enough for us to just be. “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'”
Jesus is not criticizing our efforts, but inviting us to be always willing to serve. When God asks for more, let us give more. Like Mary, let us give our all!
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse