“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
This week is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here and they talk about faith and doing what we are called to do.
I have two wonderful boys. They are 9 and 6 years old, which are really fun ages as they are old enough that you can have interesting conversations with them and do fun activities but they are not yet at the teenage rebellion years. However, one of the things that annoys me is when they complain about the simplest household chores. Last evening I asked them to let our dogs out and help me with fold a load of laundry, all I heard was constant whining about “It’s not fair, I did it myself last time” and “I can’t do it, my arm really hurts” (they just came in from playing football in the yard!). They are really good kids but sometimes it is really hard for me to not lose patience.
However, there are some great life lessons in having children as there is a sincerity in them, even in the whining, that makes me look closer at myself. Just before I was about to tell my kids to stop whining, I realize that I often “whine” to God during prayer. I will often tell him that I do not believe it is fair that I am (or at least I perceive that I am) pulling more than my fair share at work or that I am exhausted and he is calling me to do yet another task! The thing is that even though I am whining, God wants to hear it, because he wants to have a personal relationship with me. However, once I “vent” during prayer, God’s grace reminds me of all the wonderful gifts he has bestowed on me, with a wonderful family, health, stable job, peace and security. God brings me back to the place where I break down for how grateful I am for the life I have and my trivial concerns melt away in God’s love. I then go forth and do my appointed tasks with great vigor for the greater glory of God.
One of those tasks is to be a patient and loving father that sets good examples for his children. After reflection I calmly told my kids I understand that they are tired as it has been a long week. There will be ample time to rest when we are done. However, now we need to fold the laundry and the sooner we get that done, the sooner we can tackle the dishes 🙂
Today’s reflection is from Fr. Larry Gillick, S.J. from Creighton’s Online Ministries. I encourage you to read the entire reflection here, but set forth below is an extended excerpt:
Faith, like patience, is a hard grace to ask of God. We are oriented to know all things, especially about the future. We are impatient to grasp reasons for why events occur.
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Habakkuk is being prepared by God for a vision, but before that vision he makes a personal and communal complaint. This we hear in the First Reading of the liturgy. The Prophet sees nothing good around him. The nation Israel is being invaded and there is terror, discord, violence everywhere.
* * *
Jesus has been patiently leading his apostles along the narrow path of discipleship. Lately we have been listening to his teachings on freedom from the attachments to wealth and power. In the verses immediately preceding our Gospel today, Jesus has given them some encouragement to watch and act carefully in regards to leading anyone astray. He also is telling his followers about forgiving even their brothers seven times a day if they can express sorrow. As with most of Jesus’ teachings, the apostles, and ourselves, find difficulties in obeying. They see that to do so would take more faith than they seem to have.
This is the context then for our Gospel reading. The apostles ask for an increase in faith. Jesus seems to be harsh in his response. The apostles are pictured as having no faith, not even the size of a mustard seed. Then Jesus seems even more harsh by telling them about a servant who does what he is told to do and expects no special treatment from the master when the duties are finished. The master is not grateful for the servant’s having done their labors, including fixing the master’s dinner after finishing the farm labors.
When I was a lad, more than a few years ago, I had “chores” around our house. We all did, but my being the oldest boy; it seemed I got all the hard ones. I mowed the “huge” yard, washed the car, dug the garden, weeded it, and did the storm windows and screens as well as a thousand other household things. In the winter I shoveled the snow from our “long” driveway and “long” sidewalks. I never was thanked, not even once, as I now recall. Now, as then, my only reward is, as it was then, knowing that I was at least doing more than my younger brother Mike. I also was aware that though my father never said “thank you” at least he was not displeased or critical. I was doing what was expected, what I was told. It was all part of being in our family.
Even in the area of faith, as human beings, we want “affection”, that is getting the job done well, and “affection” a little praise or thanks. Our basic human and Christian struggle seems to be about present-time versus eternal-then. We are all in the family of God and we listen to what is “commanded”. Fr. Alexander of our staff is fond of saying, “Jesus is grateful.” Though that can bring a smile to my face, I do wish Jesus would congratulate, praise, or thank me in person, especially when I feel like Habakkuk. We are all believers in the promises, the “eternal then” and we wait and keep washing windows, mowing lawns, plowing and tending the flocks in our care. Our faithfulness to our doing such things is our service for our Master and our pledge of trust in the life to come.
I am sure that God is grateful, but if God were to send me a thank-you card each time I did something good, I think I would end up serving my human and healthy need for affirmation. I think it is mostly just a joy to be a believer in the eternal love of God. I loved my family and I did my chores not to win more love, but to extend the love and life within that family. My father, like God, was doing what a father does. God, like my father, encourages us to stay faithful to who we are.