MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on faith and self-rejection. Why can’t we do more? What is wrong with us? Or, is there something wrong with us? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Luke 17:5-10. #GreatPreaching #Forgiveness #Sermons #Homilyhelper #MustardSeed
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 10/6/2013 The 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 17:5-10.
Is your faith a source of life or is it a burden? Is your faith a prized personal possession or is it a prized personal permission to be a disciple? Is your faith
If your Bible is full of under-linings of favorite verses, or if your Rosary beads are worn out, if you go to Mass on a regular basis, if you think of God and pray to him, then you have faith. If you think to yourself, “am I doing the right thing?”, you have faith. If you think you ought to love your neighbor more, you have faith. If you utter the name “Jesus” with a positive feeling in your heart, you have faith.
Yet, we act as though to have faith is something extra-ordinary. I believe the reasons are two-fold. First, Henri Nouwen, in his spiritual classic, Life of the Beloved, writes,
The negative voices are so loud and so persistent that it is easy to believe them. That’s the great trap. It is the trap of self-rejection. Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity and power can, indeed, present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions….As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking: “Well that proves once again that I am a nobody.”
So, what do we hear when we hear this passage from Luke, “If you have faith the size of the mustard seed…” We hear Jesus saying, “If you could only measure up…” We hear him say, “If you would only go out to your garage and crank up the faith generator…” In other words, we interpret Jesus fulfilling our own prophecy of self-rejection. It is a prophecy of faith-rejection.
I believe that this translation of the text is incorrect. You see, in Greek, the word for “if” is also the word for “since”. In one context it means, “if you have faith…”. In another it means, “since you have faith.” It is the same problem we face in the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert by Satan in Chapter 4. Is the devil saying, “If you are the Son of God, command these stone to become bread?” Is it a temptation to prove that he is the Son of God? Or is the passage better translated, “Since you are the Son of God, command these stones to be bread?” This second temptation affirms that Jesus is the Son God, which the devil knows, and the temptation is to use his power to satisfy his own needs. The word used is the same word here with the mustard seed.
Let’s translate the passage using the second translation. If we did Jesus would say this, “Since you have faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, you can say to to this sycamine tree, Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” This would change everything. The passage would not be Jesus as another voice that berates us into the self-rejection of which Henri Nouwen speaks. In fact, it would be the opposite. Faith, in this context is something that the disciples have asked Jesus to give them and Jesus is urging them to take what they have shown they have already and use it. Here Jesus is an affirming voice of his followers to believe, trust, go, and do!
Our reading from 2 Timothy today says as much to those who are disciples and apostles,
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
Faith is not the spirit of cowardice and self doubt! Faith is something, as I have pointed out earlier you have if you have two thoughts about God to rub against each other. If you can utter the name Jesus Christ with even the remotest sense of hope, you have faith the size of a mustard seed. What is needed is not for you to wring your hands and shake your head at yourself and say, “Well, I just don’t have faith of a mustard seed, so I guess I can’t do it.” No! Just the opposite! You have faith that is a spirit of power. It is a spirit of love. It is a spirit of self-control in the face of all those self-rejecting voices.
What is it that you know you need to do, but think you have to be a super apostle to do it? Stop! That is wrong. You can do it. You can do it because you have faith, faith that might be tiny, but it is faith nonetheless. It is a little, tiny faith, that can move trees and in other Gospels we are told it moves mountains. So, hear the words of Jesus as he says to you, “since you have faith, go and do great things.” Hear my word to you, “Start doing it today.” Amen? Amen.
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