Faith is not measured by size

2 October, 2022 27th Sunday Year C

If you happen to take a road trip in the United States, you may see an advertisement for a local tourist attraction that is said to be the ‘World’s Largest’, for example, the world’s largest Thermometer or the world’s largest Mailbox.

The world seems to have on an ongoing fascination with size; the bigger, the better.

When the Titanic was launched, she was the largest ship afloat. Today, the largest cruise ship, the Wonder of the Seas, is five times the size of the Titanic, catering for almost 7,000 guests in 2,867 staterooms. Dubai famously boasts the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which has 163 floors. Though not the tallest or largest in the world, Australia can lay claim to the largest stadium, the largest mall and the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. Taller and larger, for some, seems to be the hallmark for excellence and achievement.

However, size is not everything, as in today’s gospel passage when the apostles ask for their faith to ‘increase’.  Jesus replied: “Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Given that the mustard seed was one of the smallest seeds known to farmers at that time, this would have been a confronting answer for the apostles to hear. Was Jesus telling them that their faith can’t even be compared to the smallness of a mustard seed?

Perhaps by taking Jesus literally and comparing their faith to the very small size of a mustard seed the apostles are missing Jesus’ meaning. Faith is not measured so much by physical size, be it large or small, but more by the quality of the relationship in which it is expressed …  the relationship the apostles had with Jesus and with God, and the quality of the relationships they had with others.

So, just as it was for the apostles, as disciples and followers of Jesus it is the same for us today. We too are asked not to measure our faith by size but by the quality of our relationship with Jesus and God and the people with whom we meet, converse and interact each day.

Do we have faith in God to be with us, to walk with us especially through the tough and difficult times in our lives, and to trust that God will never abandon us?  Yes, we do. As Christians our trust in God is built around our faith. It is a faith we should strive to live each day with our family, friends and the people around us.

Mark Chia CSsR

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