From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C


Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10

Our Gospel for today Jesus teaches on faith and authority. The disciples ask for more faith that is, to give them the courage and the strength needed to live according to His high ideals. Jesus agrees that their faith has to grow He says they need a different kind. And He says that real faith could cause a mulberry tree to be transplanted into the sea.; They appear to want power; Jesus tells them to act as servants.

He is telling them how radically their lives would change if they would only allow Him to fill them with his own vision of life. Moving a mulberry tree is nothing compared to the radical transformation of the landscape of their lives that would come from living faith.

The story that follows about a servant who should not expect special recognition just because he has done his duty graphically illustrates some consequences that flow from this radically new faith vision that should be  characteristic of our daily lives.    

I like to think of mustard seeds within us as those attributes that extend our  boundaries. Things like, love, forgiving, truth, AND FAITH!  If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear, we would know that the kingdom of God is as close as breathing, and is crying out to be born in us and in the world

Relationship? We place our faith in these things until one day we realize we  need so  much more.  It is then we find ourselves crying out to God, just like  the disciples. “Lord, increase our faith!”

Jesus is saying ” Don’t ask for more faith because you can’t be given any more. God has already given you a gift, and that is the gift of faith. The glass is already full. The Gift of faith from God is already in us. The faith you have is already enough to serve Christ.  Use the faith you already have!  And make room for more. Become a bigger glass! We use 7-10 % of our brain. How much of our Faith do we use? Maybe I need a “faith” lift.

Gracie Allen, who played the scatter-brained wife of George Burns, once was upset because her new electric clock kept losing time. She called a repairman and he immediately discovered the problem; the clock wasn’t plugged in. Gracie responded “I know that. I didn’t want to waste electricity, so I only plug it in when I want to know what time it is.”

Dorothy Day, the great peace activist, and founder of the  “The Catholic Worker” movement and houses of hospitality for vagrants, would often overhear others saying of her, “She’s a saint.”.  She would get upset, turn to the speaker, and say: “Don’t say that; don’t make it so easy for yourself.  You say that to convince yourself that you’re different from me, that I’m different from you.  That’s easy.  In that case you can go your own way.  But I am not different from you.  I am not a saint.  I am like you.  You could easily do what I do.  You don’t need any more than you have; so, please get kicking.”

Make a connection between the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and the disciples asking for more faith. When Dorothy and her friends finally reached Oz, they found that they had acted intelligently, courageously, and with heart already. In other words, they already had been given what they needed, they just needed to have it released.

Faith is about perspective.  There’s the story of a shoe salesman sent by his company to a backward mountain region. After a couple of days there, he wrote back to his superiors that he was coming back because “no one wears shoes around this place!” A different shoe salesman comes to the same place weeks later. After a few days, he writes back to his company asking for more order forms. He exclaims excitedly “no one wears shoes around this place!”

So don’t pray for enough faith to move mountains. What I need and ask for is enough faith to move me.”

In the final part of the gospel story, Jesus tells the servants who have done their duty that they are to consider themselves “unprofitable.” That suggests simply that these servants should not expect anything further, that is, that they should not be looking for special attention or approval. In context, this means that their faith is deficient. If they had real faith, they would be so confident and happy, that they would not need to be looking constantly for approval and reassurance of their worth. Their confidence would come from the love of God that they experience. The only ultimately satisfying approval comes from the sure experience of God’s loving presence.

There is a lesson here also for those who are especially needy, such as the sick.. They certainly deserve our personal, loving attention and care, but they too, like the “unprofitable servants,” can sometimes be more demanding and ungrateful than their condition warrants.

Caregivers are often required to have almost heroic patience in their generous service to others. Unhappy patients are probably more angry with God than with those who care for them. These patients are still struggling to accept what has happened to them and we should not take their unhappiness too personally. After all, it takes time to realize that God’s love is sometimes expressed in ways we do not understand.

So often we feel inadequate and unable to believe all God has taught us to believe and all He has asked us to do.  But we constantly need to know that He continues to bless us with all we need.    (Demetrius Dumm O.S.B.)

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