One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

November 13, 2006

For Monday of the Thirty-Second Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 17:1-6

Today in the Gospel, the apostles ask Christ for something only God can give.
increase our faith!

I’m sure each of us has prayed many times for the same gift.
The apostles ask the Lord to increase their faith right after he has given them two hard teachings.
First, he said that rather than cause anyone to sin, a man would be better off thrown into the sea with a giant stone collar to make sure he drowned and rotted at the bottom.
Second, our Lord said if a man sins against us, we should rebuke him, and if he repents we should forgive him; and if he keeps on sinning BUT REPENTING, we should keep on forgiving.
After hearing the Lord command us to forgive endlessly anyone who sins endlessly against us, but always repents, and after hearing the Lord’s lethal words for anyone who causes another to sin, it is only natural to pray, “Lord, then increase our faith!”
How does our Lord answer?
He says something that only adds to the difficulty.
He says if we had any faith— even the size of a mustard seed— just enough to hide between pinched fingers— then at our command a tree would fly and transplant itself into the sea.
Which seems more possible for us to do, to forgive someone endlessly … or to command a tree to come out of the ground and fly into the ocean?
It seems more possible to forgive endlessly.
If truth be told, commanding a tree to fly seems impossible.
However, if, as the Lord says, it only takes a pinch of faith to make a tree fly, then it much take much less than a pinch of faith to forgive endlessly.
I think that forgiving endlessly is not the toughest thing our Lord teaches today; and neither is commanding trees to fly by the power of our faith.
The toughest thing today is Jesus himself saying it’s better for us to have people put a millstone around our necks so that we drown and rot at the bottom of the sea than for us to cause another person to sin.
What horrible, ugly violence Jesus conjures up today for those who cause others to sin!
Perhaps we need to be as deadly serious as Jesus about sin.
Jesus, after all, chose to die that sins might be forgiven.
How right and necessary to ask the Lord to increase our faith!

That God Be Glorified in All


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