27th Sunday OT year C
If you had faith you could uproot this tree… Have you ever been able to uproot a tree with your faith? Me neither. Does that mean that we don't have faith? No.
What is faith? We have a difficult time understanding this concept in our modern world. Ever since the time of the Enlightenment, faith has come to mean something intellectual. To say "I believe" means "I agree." I believe that if I jumped off St. Matt's bell tower I would be very badly injured, etc.
But faith is ever so much more than just intellectual assent. First, faith is a theological virtue. This means that faith is a gift that comes from God. It is not a product of our own will and desire. Faith is a gift of grace. That is why the prayer of the apostles should be our prayer: Lord, increase our faith. Notice that Jesus doesn't ridicule the apostles for asking for faith. Rather, he just goes on to show how powerful faith can be. All too often we think that faith is something we do; rather, faith is a gift from God.
Another major problem in our modern world is that we tend to think of faith as something that is just internal. But faith is more than just our belief in God. Faith also includes what we do with this belief.
Listen again to the words of St. Paul: stir to flame the gift of god you have received. So it is God's gift, our job it to fan that gift into a flame. For we did not receive a Spirit of cowardice, but one of power and love and self-control. In other words, we will fan into flame the gift of faith God has given us when we love and show self-control. So, we need not only faith, but we need also to be faithful.
We pray as did the apostles: Lord, increase our faith. He does this especially in the Eucharist. Then when we go forth from this Mass we fan that gift into flame when we love those around us.
Now we will have a chance to make a pledge to the annual bishop's appeal. You will each be given a chance to put your faith into action. We ask that you please be generous as you support the work of the Church throughout our diocese as well as here in our parish.