Gospel – Luke 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied,
“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.

“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'”

Reflection on the Gospel

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

Today we are reminded that we need to grow in faith. But what is our faith? Do we believe in the message of Christ? What is the message of Christ?

Our faith tells us that Christ wants us to follow his teaching to love our neighbors and do good to those who harm us. He showed us what it means to love with his words, but more importantly, with his life. We know that faith either grows or lessens. That is why the apostles told Christ, “Increase our faith.”

Faith without works is meaningless. Faith, if it is true faith, will be seen in our actions. If we believe in Christ and his message, we will do what he tells us. We will show love to everyone, even to those who hurt us. Faith in Christ and his message grows with practice just as athletes must practice to become better at their sports. Faith is like a mustard seed that will grow if we help it grow. We must practice our faith if it is to ever grow. Do people recognize us as Christians by our love?

How do we practice our faith? Well, we have many opportunities each day. We can offer hospitality to the homeless, visit the sick and dying, pay attention to the downtrodden, those suffering from disabilities, alcoholism or drug addiction, or we can demonstrate for justice and peace.
One thing we do in the Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community is salvage food that would ordinarily be thrown away so we can feed the hungry. There is a coalition of churches in Milwaukee called Just One More that comes together to rescue food from being thrown out at food stores and food outlets. Volunteers pick up that food and bring it to a central location where it is sorted and distributed to partners who provide food or share meals to hungry people and families. Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community is one of those partners who picks up food from that central location three times a week. We bring it to Casa Maria and share it as meals with the poor at our four houses of hospitality. The rest is given to the poor living in the area. We do the same with adult and children’s clothing and also with donated furniture for those who come to us in need. We do this because our faith tells us that whatever we do to others, we do to Christ. We do this without being paid monetarily. Our reward is an increase of faith and love of Christ. We believe, as is written in today’s Gospel, “…we have done what we were obliged to do.”

We might see all the hunger around us or, like the prophet Habakkuk, see all the violence in our nation and find it difficult to have faith that God can overcome all that injustice and violence. Yet we have that God’s vast love is larger than all humanity’s injustice, hunger, and violence. We practice our faith together in action with our community, and our faith grows as a result.

Remember the statement made in the song, “You will know we are Christians by our love?” We can help one another to increase our faith by being examples of Christ’s love for others, by doing good to others.

Don Timmerman is a long-time peace activist, practitioner of non-violence, and a member of the Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever