Our readings today focus us on faith. In the gospel the Apostles plead for their faith to be increased. How often do we echo a similar plea? Many times, we reach out, asking for more faith, but is it faith we want or for our prayers to be answered in our way and our time?
The story of the mustard seed and faith is one that I remember hearing in my childhood. I had a necklace with a very smart glass bead with a tiny seed instead. My mother had given it to me and I seem to remember a note with it or perhaps she just always told, “If ye have faith as the mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible unto ye.” While that may not have been the exact quote from the bible, it certainly impressed upon me as a small child, that there was something in this little seed that was related to be faith — that this little seed somehow could grow into something huge. I believed my mother wanted to teach me about faith in a subtle way – maybe not even consciously but in her beliefs of symbols providing direction and as reminders of possibilities. I kept it for many years but in all honesty I don’t think I understood what strong faith really was. These were just words to a child not a concept to be embraced.
Faith is something that I think I understand better now yet I still too often have to ask for more faith. I believe as the gospel says that faith will indeed move mountains. So the question is if I do believe that, then why do I doubt at times? I read so many stories not only in the bible but stories of people’s lives where faith comes shining through. I struggle with my feet of clay and my lack of faith at times. I’m struggling in even finding the words to express why my faith wanes at times. I did some reading about mustard trees and found some interesting aspects about them. Mustard trees grow extremely large from that very tiny seed – they grow in a variety of climates – dry, hot climate or wet, cool climate. As a symbol of faith, it can be seen to survive in all circumstances, to rejuvenate even after the driest of times. It is said that even if the mustard tree is cut down to the trunk, it will regrow and be even stronger. Similarly, our faith can regain strength after being severely “pruned” and be even greater than before. The challenges that face us in our faith are not unlike the challenges that face all growing things. If we do align our faith journey with the mustard seed and its impressive tree, we will see that the tiniest seed will grow mighty and be able to survive various trials.