Here is the meditation of the readings of the mass of Sunday, October 2, 2022, by Mgr Francesco Follo, permanent observer of the Holy See at Unesco.
The power of faith is the power of love
XXVIII Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C – October 2, 2022
Hab 1,2-3;2, 2-4; Ps 94; 2Tm 1.6-8.13-14; Luke 17.5-10
1) Faith is not a matter of quantity.
Why, in today’s Gospel, do the disciples ask Christ to “Increase in us faith” (lc 17, 5)? Because the request to follow Him leaving everything (cf. lc 16, 13) and to forgive without counting (cf. lc 17:3-4), made them realize how little their faith was.
They have long recognized the Son of God, merciful and faithful Love, in Jesus Christ. Now what they ask is to have more and more confidence in this merciful and faithful love of God.
Indeed, only a tenacious and full faith can place their whole life under the sign of mercy and fidelity.
The disciples of yesterday make us disciples of today understand that we are called to trust in this fidelity of God, which is the persevering and total commitment with which God gave himself up, once and for all, to humanity, in his Word. To believe in the Word is not a problem of quantity, it is to give “word” to the Word, it is to commit oneself without reserve to the One who committed himself for us, without thinking about it any longer.
To make it clear that it is not a question of having faith “in large quantities” but of “quality”, authentic and tenacious faith, Christ makes a very convincing comparison: The tree is firmly attached to the ground and even storms cannot uproot it. Well, all it takes is a bit of faith—small as a mustard seed—to uproot it. To have faith is to trust in God humbly and totally, it is to accept a project calculated on the possibilities of God and not on ours. The possibilities of success are not due to the magnitude of our abilities but to the magnitude of the love of God towards us and in which we believe.
A current example comes to us from Saint Teresa of Calcutta, who certainly did not have spectacular gestures, but a valiant faith showing that from the power of faith flows the power of love. This saint did much more than go and plant the tree in the sea. Beginning by caring for the dying in Calcutta, she cared for and saved an innumerable crowd of poor people, helped by thousands of sisters who followed her. and still follow her. Thanks to her eyes – pure as those of angels – Mother Teresa was able to recognize Christ in all the Lazarus she met on earth, and thanks to her faith which is “a source of love”, she knew how to care for the most poor of the poor with his holy and pure hands, for which touching the wounds of a sick person was like touching those of Christ. The Mother of the Poor had a faith of such great “quality” that a totally gratuitous and disinterested current of love was unleashed, which is still speaking today, multilingual, and destined to last.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta showed that in the Church there is the ministry of charity, because the Church must not only announce but live the Word which is charity.
Mr. Teresa’s solid faith enabled her to abandon herself totally to Christ, in loving trust for the one to whom she had “simply” made room, becoming his holy home. This faith she expresses well in the following prayer: “Lord, give me faith who raises mountains, but with love. Teach me that love which finds its joy in the truth, always ready to forgive, to believe, to hope, to bear. Finally, when all finished things dissolve and everything is clear, make me a weak but constant reflection of your perfect love. »
This prayer will help us grow in valiant and charitable faith.
2) Free service.
After the lesson on the power of faith (a sprig is enough to uproot a tree), today’s Gospel continues with a brief parable, in which Jesus does not intend to describe God’s behavior towards man but that of the believer towards God: a behavior totally available, without calculations and without pretension.
Service and gratuitousness are the fundamental characteristics of the disciple who, like everyone on earth, faces scandal and sins but lives with mercy and forgiveness. This is why it is necessary that the faith be constantly reinforced, in other words our knowledge of the love of God, and to live in service and gratuity, because charity and justice are not only a question of social voluntary work, but a spiritual act performed with the grace of the Holy Spirit. The saints – and Saint Teresa of Calcutta is the most modern example – have experienced in their lives this profound unity between prayer and action, between the love of God and charity towards our brothers.
This holy woman became a Missionary of Charity because her faith, so solid as to resist aridity and the absence of spiritual consolation, allowed her to see in Jesus the highest expression of God’s love, but also the one to which we unite in order to be able to believe. For her, having faith was not just about looking to Jesus, but about seeing him from his perspective. Faith, for her, as it must be for us, must be “participation” in the gaze of Christ in the face of life.
As Pope Francis teaches: “Faith is listening and vision, it is also transmitted as word and as light” (Lumen fidei37), so the most difficult thing is not to accept doctrines, but to welcome faith as a vital fact that speaks and clarifies life, in other words that gives it meaning.
In short, faith is not a purely intellectual attitude, like the simple acceptance of certain truths. It is not simply a question of professing but of living the faith. Which calls for courageous witness and free service. Those who say they believe and abide in Jesus Christ must behave like him (1 I 2, 6). The apostle James also reminds us of this in his letter: faith without works (of charity) is a vain and dead faith (Jc 2, 26).
The consecrated virgins in the world are a fine example of this free service which becomes “testimony”. By giving themselves totally to Christ, they show that faith is “a reasonable abandonment” in the arms of the Beloved. They show, in an exemplary way, that we are all called to trust not in an enemy mystery, but in love, to follow not the absurd orders of a capricious divinity, but the law of a freedom given by a God who delivers.
The God the Bible Reveals Is a God
Who asks for trust,
Who walked in the desert and suffered,
Who accompanied and enlightened tribes of Bedouins, making them a people of hope,
Who enlightened the king of Israel,
Who uprooted men from meadow and earth to make them prophets,
Who is the Word made flesh and asks to be welcomed with the ears but also with the heart.
These consecrated women made themselves spouses of this God who, especially from the Cross on Mount Calvary, has shown millions of times how painfully and passionately He loves us.
By their consecration, these women testify that the grain of mustard, the grain of faith:
- It is to believe in the love of a God who loves us infinitely and never weakens;
- It is to love by concretely serving the other, and not by using him.
- It is to have confidence, confidence in his Word, the power of love which is and gives life.
So a powerful faith is above all a power of love, this incredible love for man, for each man, that God manifested in his Son, and which makes the believer also capable of loving in his turn. . It is to make them grow in this confidence that, during their consecration – Eucharistic Prayer II, ritual of the consecration of virgins – the Church prays: “…that they do not weaken in the ardor of their faith and their charity, but may they serve you unfailingly, you and all your people, until the day when Christ their husband comes.
Saint Augustine (354 -430)
Sermon 115, 1; PL 38, 655.
Pray for our faith to grow
“Reading the Holy Gospel strengthens our prayer and our faith, and disposes us to lean not on ourselves but on the Lord. What better way to encourage us to prayer than the parable of the unrighteous judge told to us by the Lord? The iniquitous judge, of course, neither feared God nor respected men. He felt no sympathy for the widow who had recourse to him and yet, overcome by boredom, he finally listened to her. If, then, he answered this woman who bothered him with her prayers, how could we not be answered by the one who encourages us to present our prayers to him? This is why the Lord offered us this comparison drawn from opposites to make us understand that we must always pray without being discouraged (Lk 18,1). Then he added: But the Son of man, when he comes, will he find faith on earth! (Lk 18.8).
If the faith disappears, the prayer is extinguished. Who could, indeed, pray to ask what he does not believe? Here, then, is what the Apostle says in urging us to pray: All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Then, to show that faith is the source of prayer and that the stream cannot flow if the source is dry, he adds: Now, how can one call on the Lord without having first believed in him (Rm 10,13- 14)? Let us therefore believe in order to be able to pray and pray that the faith, which is the principle of our prayer, will not fail us. Faith spreads prayer, and prayer, by spreading, obtains in its turn the strengthening of faith.
Moreover, so that faith does not weaken in temptations, the Lord said: Watch and pray, so that you do not enter into temptation (Mt 26,41). These are his words: Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. What is to enter into temptation? Simply, out of faith. For the temptation is stronger the weaker the faith, and the temptation is weaker the stronger the faith. Yes, truly, my beloved, it is so that faith does not weaken and not be lost that the Lord said: Watch and pray, so that you do not enter into temptation. In order for you to understand it better, he said in the same place in the gospel: Satan has claimed you to sift you like wheat. But I prayed for you, Peter, so that your faith does not sink (Lk 22,31-32). And he who awaits danger would not make his protector’s prayer his own?
But when the Lord said: When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? he has in view the perfect faith, which can hardly be found on earth. See: the church of God is filled. Who would come there if he had no faith? But if that faith were perfect, who wouldn’t move mountains? Look at the Apostles themselves: if they had not had great faith, they would not have renounced all they had, they would not have trampled on earthly hopes to follow Christ. And yet, their faith was not perfect, for they would not have said to the Lord: Increase our faith (Lk 17,5). »
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“The Power of Faith is the Power of Love”, by Msgr. Francesco Follo – ZENIT – English
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