All of the lectionary readings today urge us to recognize the gift of faith that is already in us and the courage we need in order to develop and maintain steadfastness in that faith. When the apostles say to Jesus, Lord, increase our faith, Jesus offers what we can only call hyperbole as a response, saying: If you had 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. (LK 17:5-10) I wonder – because of such a strong retort on the part of Jesus – if this isn’t one of the moments of his frustration with the lack of comprehension of his message in those he has chosen to follow him.
St. Paul sounds a bit more placid but just as clear in his exhortation to Timothy: Beloved, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. God did not give you a spirit of cowardice but rather of power, love and self-control. (2TM 1:6-8, 13-14) Those three qualities would go far to stir up our faith if we practiced them consciously each day, remembering also the advice of Psalm 95:8: If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.
All of this advice and urging to faith will surely coalesce in us if we remember the promise of the prophet – a long-ago message that may give hope in our world today where we are always looking for the “quick fix” to our problems and difficult situations. I quote it last so that it will remain as first of what we might ponder today.
The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. (HAB 2:2-4)