Friday, 27 May 2016
Father Ignatius waited for a few seconds after reading the Gospel in church on Sunday.
“Let us remind ourselves of what Mary read in the second reading today,” he said, “To have Faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.
“There are times in life when events hit us from nowhere and our Faith takes a real knock. Bad health maybe, or loss of a job or something else and we say … why is this happening to me? I’m a good person. I go to church regularly and love God. Why does He do that to me?
“But St Paul, who is said to have written this letter to the Hebrews, is quite clear in what he says … to have Faith is to be sure and certain of what we hope for and what we cannot see.
“And he had good reason to lose Faith … he was not in good health, he’d been arrested, beaten and imprisoned many times for preaching about Jesus, he was shipwrecked and bitten by a snake. He could have said at any time … enough of this … I might as well give up and go back to making tents … which was of course his trade.
“But he didn’t give up. His Faith remained strong. He continued preaching despite all adversities.”
Father Ignatius stopped for a while then continued.
“Jesus said that if we have Faith as small as a mustard seed we can say to a mountain move and it will move … or to a mulberry tree uproot yourself and plant yourself in the sea and it will do it.
“Can you imagine that? We don’t have any mountains near us … but there’s Ben Nevis in Scotland and Mount Snowden in Wales. Can you imagine standing there at the foot of Ben Nevis and saying … hey you Ben … I command you to move over there!
“And to have so much Faith in what you have said that you know for certain it will happen? You wouldn’t be frightened of making a fool of yourself in front of everyone else! You’d shout your command out loud to the mountain knowing full well that it will obey you.”
He paused again for a while and took something out of his pocket.
“I have here a mustard seed …” he said raising his hand, “can you see it?
“Of course not … it’s so small that I can hardly see it myself …
“Suddenly, this tiny mustard seed has never seemed so big … when it comes to asking a mountain to move.”
He stopped again and put the seed back in his pocket.
“But Jesus was not exaggerating when He taught us to have Faith.
“On His way to Capernaum Christ met a Roman Centurion whose servant was very ill. He asked Our Lord to help the servant, and when Jesus made His way towards the house the Centurion said ‘Lord, I do not deserve that you come under my roof. But just say the word and my servant will be healed’
“Can you imagine the Faith of that Centurion? A Roman officer who was no doubt tasked to keep the peace and had probably persecuted Christ’s followers in his time and kept them under control … Yet, this very man had so much Faith in Jesus that he knew that one word from Him and the servant would be healed.
“Can you do that I wonder? Can you have so much Faith in God that you know for certain that He will see you through whatever crisis you are facing? Or does your Faith crumble when adversity strikes?”
He stopped yet again to punctuate his sermon and to gauge the discomfort of the congregation.
“My dear friends …” he continued, “I am no Saint …
“There are times when my Faith falters too … I am as weak as any of you and at times that mustard seed I carry is as large as Ben Nevis itself.
“God knows that … He knows the amount of Faith we have in Him and how it varies in the good and the bad times …
“And yet He loves us all the same.
“A man came to Jesus once and asked Him to heal his son ‘if you possibly can …’
“Note the hesitancy in the man’s request. He was not as certain as the Centurion … he said ‘help us if you possibly can …’
“Jesus replied, ‘If you can? Everything is possible for he who has Faith.’
“To which the man replied, ‘I do have Faith, but not enough. Help me to have more!’
“Jesus took pity on him yet admired his honesty and healed his son.
“We too dear friends … should never be afraid or ashamed when our Faith is weak to say to God in all honesty.
“I believe, Lord; help my unbelief”. (Mark 9:24).