Fr. Jolly’s Homily for Sunday, October 6, 2019

27th Sunday- C Luke 17 5-10

The theme of our celebration today is the most important Christian and theological virtue – Faith.  It is the foundation of our Christian life. Faith gives us a new vision and version of life. Without faith, we see only the ugly and dark side of life. Without faith, we remain helpless and slaves to despair and hopelessness. Faith liberates us and helps us to see the power and love of God at work in our lives.

Charles Blondin, was a French tightrope walker. He became world-famous in June of 1859. He stretched a tightrope across the mighty Niagara Falls which was over a quarter of a mile. He became the first person to accomplish this amazing achievement.  He walked across 160 feet above the waterfalls several times, each time with a different daring feat – once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and once even carrying a stove and cooking an omelet! A large crowd gathered and a buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the river bank. The crowd “Oooooohed!” and “Aaaaahed!” as Blondin carefully walked across one dangerous step after another — blindfolded and pushing a wheelbarrow. Upon reaching the other side, the crowd’s applause was louder than the roar of the falls! Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: “Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?” The crowd enthusiastically shouted, “Yes, yes, yes. You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. You can do anything!” “Okay,” said Blondin, “Get in the wheelbarrow…..” The Blondin story goes that day he was not able to perform a miracle for them and people had to go home without enjoying another miracle; because they did not trust him enough with their own lives. No one did get into the wheelbarrow, although they had faith in his ability! Later in August of 1859, his manager, Harry Colcord, showed his faith in Blondin and did ride on Blondin’s back across the Falls. Life is like a tightrope across the Niagara Falls. And Jesus offers us that He will definitely carry us through, if you believe him and hand your life over to him.  People say, I know Jesus is God and he can perform miracle but this particular situation of whatever I am going through, that is a bit too much for Jesus to handle. Is there anything that is too much for Jesus to handle?  In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to have strong Faith in Him that it may help them to experience mighty miracles in their lives.

Why faith is not working as much as it should? Microsoft has different operating system like Windows XP, Vista and latest windows 7 and 10. When you buy a brand new computer you have several days to activate the operating system. Activation is Microsoft’s way of forcing you to register your product. When you register it, Microsoft takes an image of your drive, which prevents you from installing it on another computer. In other words, you can no longer use the same copy of the Windows for every computer in your home. Up until few years ago, we didn’t have to register the product to use it. But today you have to register your computer to use it. If you fail to register thinking that Microsoft has the capacity to access all the information that you have stored in your computer. So if you didn’t trust them and then you just refuse to register, your computer or many of the features that come with it will not work until you do. So, today just buying a computer does not mean a thing until you activate it.

Surprisingly, faith also works very much the same way. All of you who are gathered here in prayer have faith. But some of you have more faith than others. Why some Christians have more faith than others. They just seem to use it more. They have activated their faith with the owner who gave the faith to them. We live in a world of decreased faith. The number of people believe in God is decreasing, the number people praying, reading scripture, going to church, going to sacrament are decreasing. As a result problems are escalating, family, financial, social, political and religious clash is intensifying. More people died violent deaths in the twentieth century than in any century prior to the last one. All of our systems–educational, economic, military, political, ecclesiastical–all of our systems are in some kind of crisis. Looking at all these problems, we wonder what family life would be like in 20 years. What would the church look like in 20 years? What my city would be like in 20 years? If our eyes are open to the world around us, we have two options: we can ask for more faith or we can give up. This is despair.

But today, with the disciples we can pray to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” What else would we say? The world is in peril. “Increase our faith”. Jesus said, “If you had just a little faith, you would be able to do amazing things…if you had faith the size of a mustard seed.” It’s not the quantity of faith, but the kind of faith, that matters. Mother Teresa said our calling is not to do great things, but to do small things with great love and faith.

What is Faith?

It means:

  1. F- Forwarding
  2. A- All
  3. I- Issues
  4. T- To
  5. H- Heaven

So that you can lead an anxiety free life.

Faith also means: “trust.”   People “have faith in their banks” because their accounts are insured.   I deposit a million there and whenever I need it they will release it that you can lead an anxiety free life. God will release his blessings when you need it.  Faith also means, agreement. I agree to the terms and conditions of the bank. Do you believe in God, in Jesus… in eternal life? I agree….. It also means “relationship,” with God. Husband has faith in wife and wife has faith in husband and that faith grown in your relationship. If one cheat the other then the faith collapse.

How can we grow in faith?

Each time I read this passage, I remember this short story. A rusty shield once said to the sun, “Dazzle me,” and the sun responded: “polish yourself and I will dazzle you.” St. Paul reminded Timothy ‘Beloved I remind you, to stir into flame  the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. The other way to grow in faith is study! There is a forum called, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life started in 2001. They seek to promote a deeper understanding of issues related to religion and public affairs. They conducted a study: according to their studies atheists and agnostics have more knowledge on Christianity than Christians.  They asked very simple questions like; who was Moses; where was Jesus born? That is really embarrassing!

How can we grow in faith? We can 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 and a well-disciplined spiritual life. St. Paul in Rom 10/17 says  “Faith comes by hearing,” therefore, if you want to grow in faith Read your Bible Daily, set apart certain amount of time to pray daily, go to mass as often as you can; not only on Sundays but also on weekdays, participate in the sacraments of the church, like confession, have a special devotion to the blessed mother by praying the rosary daily, and have a special devotion to the Eucharist by participating in the 24 hours of adoration program.

Another way is by sharing your faith with family and friends; because faith when it is shared, it is doubled. Planting a tree in the sea using words alone sounds impossible and ridiculous to us.  But, using this cartoon metaphor, Jesus challenges us to attempt the difficult things of life.  The tree Jesus mentions is a variety of large, deeply rooted mulberry tree that grows in the Middle East.  By this strange example, Jesus shows us that we, too, can perform miracles.   We must be ready to attempt things that the worldly, the wise and the sophisticated laugh at. Here are two examples. 1) A middle-aged mother went back to complete her teacher training.  She specialized in helping children with learning difficulties.  In a large school she worked with a class of what others called “the retarded.”  Because she had actually asked for this difficult class, some teachers treated her as though she were insane.   Wasn’t this truly “planting trees in the sea?”   2) A priest in Africa deliberately committed a small crime in order to get himself put in a prison where he could minister to those who needed him most.   He was “planting a tree in the sea!”  He had true Faith!

Today if you pray to the Lord “Dazzle me,” and the Lord will respond: “polish yourself and I will dazzle you.”