When the first disciples, the first Christians, beg Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17, 5-10), they do so because they have just begun to realize what He expects of them. Then, He calms them down just a little with the mustard seed image suggesting that they need not think the task (of discipleship) is too great for them. In essence, He is saying, “Just a little something will get it all started.” Then Jesus adds a parable. He suggests that if they think that because they have done that little bit, it will be over and it will be enough, they probably ought to think again. In a loose translation of the parable, “When you have finished in the fields and brought in the sheep, don’t think you’re done. Get to the kitchen and dining room and serve up the dinner.” What’s that all about?
As Jesus speaks to His first followers and to us, He is reminding us that it is easy to get started. It is also easy to become a half-hearted follower. It is easy to think that all we have to do is show up for Mass, sing, listen, go to Communion, throw in an envelope or some lose change, and maybe stay until the closing hymn, and we’re “in.” We look like good disciples and people going by on Hodge Street will see the parking lot and think, “Wow, look at all those good Catholics!” But the Gospel says, “No” to that. After we’ve done all those things every weekend, there is more to do because genuine discipleship requires action, conversion, and the engagement of our minds and hearts. Ideally, these are the things we do (and want to do!) because we have been at Mass, shared in Communion, and listened to God’s Word. These things makes us real disciples. There is nothing fake about action or service in the name of Christ.
St. Paul reinforces all of this in his Letter to Timothy: “Stir into flame the gift God gave you.”
Let us pray. “O God, never fail to stir up our faith so that its power will become visible in our lives. You have planted the seed of faith in every one of our hearts. Help us to trust that that seed is yearning to sprout anew in our world. Your Son, Jesus, believed that. With your help, so can we. Amen”