‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.’
Today our scripture readings invite us to develop a faith that is bold and strong like the prophet Habakkuk. And St Paul also reminds us that God’s gift to us is not a spirit of timidity but the spirit of power, and love, and self-control.
In the first reading from the prophet Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4 we encounter the prophet Habakkuk, screaming at the Lord. “How long, Lord, am I to cry for help while you will not listen.
In the presence of evil and suffering the prophet turns to God in a cry not of despite but a cry of faith. His affinity and trust in God makes him bold enough to scream and shout for God to intervene on behalf of his people. His is a faith that is based on the conviction that it is God who has the final say. He therefore dares to challenge God as it were to do something. And indeed his cry of faith and trust is heard and God replies.
God’s reply to the prophet is a call for patience, waiting for God to act. God invites the prophet to write the vision down of what he is going to do, “if it comes slowly, wait, for come it will, without fail. His trust in God and boldness of faith has paid off. Trust in the Lord you shall tire, serve you the lord, you shall not weaken. For lord’s own strength will uphold you, and you shall renew your life and live.
It Is this boldness of faith that St Paul is encouraging Timothy in the second reading from 2 Tim 1:6-8,13-14 to cultivate. He reminds Timothy to fan into a flame the gift that God gave him when he Paul laid hands on him. God’s gift is not a spirit of timidity, but the spirit of power, and love, and self-control. Paul tells Timothy not to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of him for being his prisoner. Paul further encouraged Timothy to bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God.
Paul was aware of how suffering and hardship can sometimes deaden the boldness of faith and we slip into despair and resign ourselves to fate. On the other hand suffering and hardship can inspire a strong faith in God and a boldness that is awesome. For the help of man alone is vain but with God we shall do bravely. This is a reminder that where human capabilities come to there limits God’s power takes over.
Similarly in the Gospel reading from Luke 17:5-10, Jesus tells us of the power of faith. He says that, “were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.’
Jesus’s boldness of faith was demonstrated in his ministry. He puts his faith to work in the afflicted who came to him for help and healing. His faith was manifested in his prayer and relationship with God whom he addressed as father and taught us to call father. It is for his boldness of faith that he is accused of blasphemy by the authorities and eventually put to death. Perhaps it is in the light of his boldness of faith born out of an intimate relationship with God that we can understand his cry on the cross “my God, my God, why have you abandoned me.”
It is Jesus’s deep rooted faith in God and closeness to the father that enabled him to go through his passion and made him bold enough to face the suffering of the cross on Calvary. It was a faith that was deep and bold, yet patient enough to wait for God to act when the appointed time had come. It was the same faith that enabled him to say not my will but your will be done at the garden in Gethsemane. Mk 14:36.
The invitation today for us is to continue developing our faith as a light that will guide us in the perilous journey of life. Faith is linked to hope and hope gives us a reason to live. Faith gives us a vision of life, without faith we see only the dark side of life. It is faith in the risen and glorified Christ that liberates us and enables us to see the spirit of power and love at work in our lives. Without faith and love our service lacks meaning and can look like servitude.