Many years ago, a famous shoe company sent one of its salespeople to a faraway country to start a business. After a few months he sent back the message: “I am coming home. Nobody wears shoes here.” The same company sent another salesperson to the same backward area. After a few months she sent this message to the home office: “Send more order forms. Nobody wears shoes here. Hence, I can sell more shoes.” The second salesperson saw the opportunity in her situation, not the difficulty. She succeeded because she had faith in her product, faith in the people and faith in her ability to canvass customers. Today’s readings tell us that if we have a little Faith, even the smallest amount, in God’s power, which He is glad to share with us, then we’re on the right track.
The Apostles were asking for greater confidence and trust in God, so that they might work the miracles which they had seen Jesus perform, like the withering of a fig-tree by a simple command. Jesus responded by telling them the power of Faith, even a very little Faith. He used the parables of the mustard seed and the good servant to help them understand the need for strong Faith. While the Apostles ask for an increase in the quantity of their Faith, Jesus reminds them, and us, that the quality of their faith is more important.
Jesus teaches his Apostles that Faith allows us to share in God’s power, and, hence, even in small quantities, deep Faith enables Him to work miracles in our lives and in the lives of others. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “To one who has Faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without Faith, no explanation is possible.”
Jesus did not ask the Apostles to move trees or mountains, but rather to forgive their repentant brothers and sisters. Forgiveness is a gift of God’s grace, activated through Faith. When a person of Faith is trustingly receptive to God’s power, all things become possible, even moving mountains or forgiving bitter enemies.
In her secret and personal letters Saint Mother Teresa revealed that for almost 50 years, she went through what is best described as “the dark night of the soul,” driving her to doubt the existence of Heaven and even God. No one knew that she was troubled.” Like all of us, Mother Teresa was but human. And it is only natural that we, like her, will experience times of doubt, loneliness, dryness and even denial. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”
We need to thank God, giving Him the credit for our well-being. Most of us are disposed to forget God’s providence when our earthly affairs are going well. We pray to Him only when trouble strikes. In His Countless Goodness, God often answers such prayers. Stronger Faith enables us to accept the difficulties and the trials of life, asking God, “Increase our Faith, Lord” at all times.
We need to increase our Faith by becoming dutiful servants of God. We grow in Faith as we act in Faith. A sincere Christian can find many ways to help to make Christ known to his neighbor. A quiet word, a charitable sign, an unselfish interest in a neighbor’s troubles can do more good than a series of sermons given by some renowned theologians.
We need to grow in Faith by using the means Christ has given us in his Church. We must cultivate our Faith through prayer, Bible study, participation in the Holy Mass (‘the mystery of Faith”) and leading a well-disciplined spiritual life.
A little boy wanted $100.00 very much, and his mother told him to pray to God with Faith. He prayed and prayed for two weeks, but nothing turned up. Then he decided perhaps he should write God a letter requesting the $100.00. When the postal authorities received the letter addressed to God, they opened it up and decided to send it to the President. The President was so impressed and touched that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a check for $5.00. He thought that this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy. The little boy was delighted with the $5.00 and sat down to write a thank-you letter to God, which ran as follows:” “Dear God: Thank you very much for the money. I noticed that you had to send it through Washington. Dad said that, as usual, they deducted $95.00 for themselves in the name of ‘Homeland Security’ to save our country from terrorists.”
Someone has said, “Charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the unbelievable, or it is no virtue at all.”
A small amount of deep Faith can accomplish great things if that small amount of Faith is placed in a great, mighty, and all-powerful God. Let us ask God the grace to deepen our faith.