Mistaken post yesterday – This is the
27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.”
Christians today are certainly facing a very daunting task just by living in an increasingly godless and materialistic society and culture. Simply to persevere in one’s faith is a real task, given the kind of Post-Christian culture that we live in today, an increasingly decadent environment with its powerful propaganda machines that make believing Christians who do not go along with this decadent intellectual, moral, and cultural climate look like intolerant and backward thinking puritans.
It’s extremely hard to remain a Christian, at least publically, when the society you live in treats you like an alien.
Bit if remaining a Christian is a daunting challenge, even more daunting is the duty of every Christian to bring his or her faith into the public arena, to evangelize not only other people, but the culture itself. In this regard, Vatican II had this to say: “Since they have an active role to play in the whole life of the Church, laymen are not only bound to penetrate the world with a Christian spirit, but are also called to be witnesses to Christ in all things in the midst of human society.” (Gs 43)
This same doctrine is found in Lumen Gentium 31 where the temporal mission of the laity is spelled out: “But the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. … They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity. …it is their special task to order and to throw light upon these [temporal] affairs in such a way that they may come into being and then continually increase according to Christ to the praise of the Creator and the Redeemer.”
There is no question, then, that is primarily the mission of laity, assigned by Christ and His Church, and it is a noble mission and one that can produce great spiritual rewards both the lay apostle and for the temporal society itself. Nonetheless, there is also no question that this mission has been made much more difficult and perilous today due to the rather precipitous decline and collapse of many western institutions that were once based upon and consistent with the Christian understanding of the just society and the common good.
Proclaiming the Gospel in a pagan world has always been demanding, and it’s no wonder the Apostles begged the Lord to increase and strengthen their faith. Faith, Hope and Charity are the virtues that enables the Church and individual Christians to carry out their mission in the world, which includes the inner transformation of culture and the institutions of civil society. Faith is the foundation of everything the Church is and does, and only a strong and enlightened faith will enable her to accomplish her mission in a dark world.
Here too Vatican II recognized this situation of the contemporary world:” For a monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole history of man. The battle was joined from the very origins of the world and will continue until the last day, as the Lord has attested.(8) Caught in this conflict, man is obliged to wrestle constantly if he is to cling to what is good, nor can he achieve his own integrity without great efforts and the help of God’s grace. GS37 Without this basic realism, the mission of the Church becomes paralyzed.
Today, we Christians can be tempted to turn inward and let the world and its institutions simply reap the whirlwind caused by its arrogance before God. But that is not the way Christ, which is always the way of the Cross. We, like the Apostles must stand fast and ask the Lord for the increase of faith and grace that will enables us to go forward toward the kingdom ever struggling to transform the world into something more fitting for the children of the light and for all mankind.
Dear brothers and sisters, what a different world we would live in today, if we, if we the members of Christ’s Church, individually and collectively had a greater faith. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that were our faith even as tiny as a mustard seed, even our small faith would work wonders in our world. When Jesus speaks of faith uprooting and moving trees, or, as in Matthew and Mark, of faith moving mountains, we know he is using these physical images to speak about spiritual realities.
Of course, we know that when Jesus speaks about faith moving great trees or mountains he is speaking not about these physical realities but about moving great spiritual obstacles to the Kingdom of God like those taking root in our world. He is speaking about faith overcoming the mountains of human pride and arrogance found in our courts, legislatures and executives, in our universities and positively resists the Word of God. He is talking about the mountains of human sin that seem so impossible to overcome simply by preaching the Gospel of Christ. He is speaking about the massive and tangled webs of human avarice and lust and greed and hatred that the Gospel encounters in human cultures, which seem so impenetrable to the Gospel.
Jesus declares that “our” faith, that is, if the collective faith of the Church were even to be the size of a mustard seed, it could overcome all these spiritual obstacles that we encounter in this world. Such faith can literally transform the darkness of this world, no matter how dark, into the light of God’s Kingdom. It did it in the Roman Empire and it can do it today. But we have to persistently pray, beg for that faith the size of the mustard seed. A sign of how lacking our faith is today, is precisely how difficult we find it to believe in the power of faith itself to change our world. Why is our faith so weak today?
Perhaps we have become too caught up in the ways of this world. Perhaps we have begun to tacitly accept the idea that there really is nothing we can do about it, or anyone can do about this march of history that is destroying our culture and society. But that is the biggest lie of all in the end. It is satanic to think this way. There is someone who can do something about this, and we can be his agents if only we have sufficient faith. It begins by believing that Christ really is the Lord of heaven and earth. We must begin by begging for that faith every day, and then putting it into action.