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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Faith as Small as a Mustard Seed

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Matthew 17:14–20
 
A mustard seed held between two finger tips.
 

After glimpsing Jesus’s glory in his Transfiguration, the disciples had to come down from the mountain. They were truly brought back to earth by the failure of others to exorcise a demon. Though they had seen the glory of God, they still had to operate, as we all do, in a world where Satan has power because of human sin. Our encounters with God in prayer can give us the faith to be able to combat evil in our daily lives.

Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. Unlike them, the father of the possessed boy was a model of faith: he knelt before Jesus and addressed him as Lord. He knew who Jesus was and that he had the power to set his son free. The disciples had some faith, but it was weak and needed strengthening. Jesus stressed the power of faith in a vivid way in his statement that even faith the size of a mustard seed could move a mountain. In the world’s perspective faith is something insignificant and powerless; yet it can achieve amazing results. If we only believe, God can do great things through us, and bring about what we think impossible.

Most of us would say we have faith and believe in God, but our challenge is to apply this faith in our daily lives. It is in times of trial and suffering that we are called to live by faith, and it is then that our faith can grow most. We need to exercise our faith, and work to make it grow — otherwise it may wither away and fail to reach its potential. We can nourish our faith by regular prayer, Scripture reading and celebrating the Eucharist. In these ways we allow God to speak to us and strengthen us with his grace.

We should not be content with a wavering faith. If we expect great things from God, he can do great things for us. Jesus’s saying about the grain of faith should not depress us and make us think ourselves inadequate, but inspire us with a vision of the wonderful work God can do if we truly have a firm faith in him and try to live it out every day.

Lord Jesus, I believe in you, but my faith is often weak. Strengthen my faith so that I may allow you to work through me in ways more wonderful than I can imagine.

Chris
 
 
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Only God can Forgive Sins

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Matthew 9:1–8
 
The teachers of the law got at least one thing right: by claiming to forgive sins, Jesus was claiming to be God.  And of course we know that he is God, and he does forgive sins, repeatedly.
 
Fr Ronald Rolheiser:

“. . .if the Catholicism that I was raised in had a fault, and it did, it was precisely that it did not allow for mistkes. If you made a mistake, you lived with it and, like the rich young man, were doomed to be sad, at least for the rest of your life. A serious mistake was a permanent stigmatization. We need a theolgy of brokenness. We need a theology which teaches us that even though we can’t unscramble an egg, God’s grace lets us live happily and with renewed innocence beyond any egg we may have scrambled. Every time we close a door, He opens another one for us . . .

"We need a theology that teaches us that God does not just give us one chance, but that every time we close a door, God opens another one for us. We need a theology that challenges us not to make mistakes, that takes sin seriously, but which tells us that when we do sin, when we do make mistakes, we are given the chance to take our place among the broken, among those whose lives are not perfect, the loved sinners, those for whom Christ came. We need a theology which tells us that a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance are just as valid as the first one. We need a theology that tells us that mistakes are not forever, that they are not even for a lifetime, that time and grace wash clean, that nothing is irrevocable. Finally, we need a theology which teaches us that God loves us as sinners and that the task of Christianity is not to teach us how to live, but to teach us how to live again, and again, and again."

Chris

from Ron Rolheiser

 

 

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Repentance

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Jonah 3:1–10, Luke 11:29–32
 
Lent is a time to be healed, restored and lifted up.  Repentance was for the people of Nineveh the gateway to life, and so it is for us.
 
We follow One who is greater than Jonah and Solomon; we follow Christ, the Son of the Living God.  The Holy Spirit leads us to salvation along the well-trodden path of repentance.
 
The Queen of Sheba was moved by the teaching of Solomon.  The Nineties felt compelled to repent by the teaching of the reluctanct evangelist Jonah.
 
How much more, then, should we be moved and compelled to repent by the teaching of the One who is greater than Jonah Moses and all the prophets, Jesus Christ our Saviour?
 
Chris
 
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"You are the Son of God"

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Mark 3:7-12
 
Mark told the story in this way, keeping the “Messianic Secret” in order that his readers would accept Jesus’s true identity on his terms, in the context of his entire life and mission.
 
For Mark we are free to proclaim Jesus as our Messiah and Lord only when we accept his way of suffering messiahship along with all the signs, wonders, healings and miracles that he performed.
 
Mark has created a moment of pause, reflection and meditation; so must we.
 
It will not be in the skimming of religious books or in hastening through our religious duties that we will become strong in faith.  It will be in the unhurried meditation on gospel truths that we will grow in holiness and sanctity,
 
How true the wisdom and insight of St John of the Cross who said, “My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on you."
 
Finding time to pray, to be still and to quieten our mind, heart and spirit that we may draw close to God as he comes close to us, requires both a decision and effort.  But in making them we will be richly rewarded.
 
”Spend an hour every day, some time before the midday meal, in meditation; and the earlier the better, because your mind will then be less distracted and fresh after a night’s sleep.”  (St Francis de Sales)
 
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The Faith of the Centurion

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Luke 7:11-17
 
Some of the most powerful and moving things Jesus said were connected with grief and loss.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. (Matt. 5:4).  When faced with the grief of Mary and Martha, John informs us that “Jesus wept”.  
 
How moving it must have been to see Jesus, himself the Resurrection and the Life, weep freely and openly (John 11:35).  We meet the same heartfelt and profoundly compassionate response in today’s encounter with the widow: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and she said, 'Don’t cry’ “ (v. 13 NIV).  His reaction teaches ius that Gpd’s heart is full of kindness and compassion for the human condition and predicament.
 
Grief strips us bare, but God is close to all those who have suffered loss, who are broken-hearted and grief-stricken.
 
Lord, your kindness, mercy and compassion are deeper thant the ocean, wider than the sea and extend from heaven to earth.
 
 
 
 
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I desire mercy, not sacrifice

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Matthew 9:9-13

What the Pharisess failed to grasp – and we have our moments, too – is that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Despite the grace of baptism we carry the wound of original sin and, rather like soldiers on the front line, we seek healing and repair in the field hospital of Christ.

“I can clearly see that what the Church needs today is the ability to heal wounds and warm the hearts of the faithful, it needs to be by their side.  I see the Church as a field hospital after a battle.  It’s pointless to ask a seriously injured patiend whether his cholesterols or blood sugar levels are hight!  It’s his wounds that need to be healed.  The rest we can talk about later.  Now we must think about treating those wounds.”  Pope Francis

Chris

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