October 2, 2022
Proper 22C

Faith – What do we thank we mean by that? Does it always have the same significance? Belief? Trust?

Notice in Habakkuk – the prophet is fed up with injustice and evil… Then he says, “Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.”

What does that mean?
The proud do what is wrong – but the righteous LIVE/do/ act by their faith – by their trust – they DO what is right…Pretty close to James: Faith without works is dead – In other word, faith IS obedience – it isn’t just agreeing that something is true – they LIVE it –

So when we come to the Gospel – The apostles say, “Increase our faith!”
Look. Have you ever felt that way yourself? Or have you ever been pressured to “increase your faith” so that something would happen? Is faith measurable in that way? Quantifiable? Is God somehow disappointed that your faith isn’t “enough?”
And what’s “enough” anyway?

Sometimes Jesus’ answer is translated badly- which helps to reinforce that sense of “not enough-ness.”
If we hear him say,” If you HAVE faith the size of a mustard seed you CAN say…”

But that’s not what Jesus says at all. It’s as if he doesn’t even like the question – He retorts – “If you HAD faith the size of a mustard seed, then you could…”

In other words, you don’t even have THAT much faith – you aren’t needing more faith – that’s not the problem here –

The problem is – you want magic, maybe, but not the trust that simply does what I ask you to do!

I have a friend who is always saying to other people for whom she has responsibility, “Just do it! Do it NOW”

In other words, if you trust me – if you believe I am who I am, get with the program. That IS what faith looks like –

Now I understand that using Language of slavery is difficult in our country with our unresolved issue of historic racial slavery and continuing racism, and discrimination –

But try to hear what Luke is up to – The story assumes the sort of slavery that was common in the Roman Empire – and it also assumes that everybody knew what that was. Now none of the disciples were probably wealthy enough to have slaves anyway – They were ordinary people whom so far as we know – did their own work.
But the story says what they all understand. A slave – or a son – does what the head of the household tells him to do – He doesn’t get the privilege of sitting at the head of the table – He will eat, but not until the master, the head of the family, has eaten.
And since thanks were reserved for special gifts or actions that were not expected, it wasn’t common to “thank” people for doing what they were expected to do.
What Jesus is up to here is a rebuke –
Not an invitation to figure out how to get more faith to make more stuff happen –

You don’t even have faith – trust – the size of a tiny seed!
Faith comes by doing what I tell you to do and then you’ll see that I am trustworthy –
When see you that I am trustworthy, you’ll simply do what is just and right and good – and not stop to congratulate yourself about it –

In other words, they are asking the wrong question –
And pretty often, so do we!

Here’s a contemporary example for you:

A tightrope walker is getting ready to walk across Niagara Falls –
And having heard about how good he is, you watch as he prepares. Wanting to show your faith you say, “Wow! You can do it! I know you can! You’re the greatest!”

And he turns to you and says – “Get on my shoulder..come with me!”

What do you say then?



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