Commentary on the Gospel of
In Luke's gospel Jesus says some important things to his disciples, and to us, which have a contemporary ring.
"Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur."
He tells us, "Be on your guard!"
One of the most difficult things many of us have to deal with is the experience of living in a world which seems to be more and more divided and ugly. We are reminded by Jesus that this will happen in our world, but cautions us to be on our guard against the sins that are seemingly everywhere around us.
"If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,'
you should forgive him."
Jesus wants us to be reconcilers. It seems that we aren't too far from St. Josephat's dilemma. If we try to be a unifier, it can feel like we'll be hacked to death. The forces of division are strong. St. Ignatius warned us that if the Enemy can't tempt us to something that is gross and crude, the Enemy can appear as "an Angel of Light," proposing things that appear good and devout, and use them for very evil and divisive ends. We need to reflect on which Spirit is behind the passionate desires we sometimes have. And, we need to seek repentance for the spirits within us which give in to divisiveness - even for seemingly good reasons. Making the other into a "demon" is one of the ways we go down that path. Jesus urges us to be bridge builders and to repair divisions and to heal wounds and to forgive.
And the Apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
The Lord replied, "If you have 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."
The Apostles knew that Jesus was asking something very challenging of them, so the natural plea was, "Increase our faith." It seems we just can't be more loving and self-less and unifying, without a whole lot more faith. Jesus counters with the assurance that it only take faith "the size of a mustard seed." Jesus wants us to turn to our faith, no matter how small, unattened to, it might be, or how fragile it might be. A little faith is enough. I suspect he means to say that if our starting point is not the arguments and differences and loyalties we have, but rather, the faith in God's love and mercy for us, we'll be okay in loving as we have been loved. Only the Enemy could turn faith into something that divides us. The Holy Spirit always gives faith that - even in a small quantity - can give us the courage and the peace to be a uniter, a reconciler, a healer, a bridge builder. In the Holy Spirit, real differences melt, as our common Creator and our common destination - all gifts to each of us - bring us together.
God of us all, may we be healed and brought together as your people. It was the desire Jesus expressed in his prayer to you the night before he died - that we all would be one. Help us turn to you in faith, that we might repent of all our divisiveness and that we might seek forgiveness and greater unity. May your Spirit inspire us to see the common good, over our own individual good. May we be martyrs - at least witnesses - of the self-sacrificing love you shared with us in Jesus, who died for all of our sins. Let reconciliation begin in our homes and in our closest relationships. May unity always be more important than victory, forgiveness always be sought before judgments, and may solidarity guide our hearts to care for those most on the margins and most in need of our love.