The following is a reflection on Luke 17:5-10, the Gospel lesson appointed for Proper 22C according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
The apostles ask Jesus to “increase” their faith.
For me, when a parishioner walks into my office and asks for help increasing and deepening their faith, I’m thrilled! I break out some good books, talk about their prayer life, get them signed up to serve Communion on Sunday…
But Jesus? He brushes the disciples off. No tips. No tricks. Not even much encouragement.
They want more, and Jesus tells them they need hardly any. Just a mustard seeds’ worth.
Isn’t this curious? Why not indulge them? I mean, could more faith hurt?
I know we say “all things in moderation,” but faith? Can you get too much of that?
I think there’s a few messages here:
- First, there’s a great temptation to turn faith into something complex. Gimmicky. Something you need to become an “expert” in. A never ending quest to get more and more, better and better. Jesus tells the disciples that faith is simple. You just need a little to move mountains. That’s not to say there’s not room to grow and develop faith, but it’s also not an arms race.
- Second, this temptation to obsess over faith can become a distraction to the kind of faith that Jesus actually teaches. The faith of Jesus is about loving God and loving neighbor, not about getting more and more of something for yourself.
- Third, when it comes to faith, sometimes a little dab will do you. Why? Because faith is powerful. It only takes a small light to pierce the darkness, and God doesn’t require one to be a spiritual Jedi master to move in us, do things with us, or love us.