you had 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.”
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel passage have always left me a bit
puzzled. If Jesus meant them as a literal teaching about what the
prayers of a person with even the most minute faith can achieve, then
his instruction seems to have accomplished little. I mean, even only a
few people in each generation attained the level of faith of the
minuscule mustard seed, surely the sea would be a floating forest of
mulberry trees by now. But as far as we know, there is not even one out
there. Yes, I know, Jesus managed to shrivel a fig tree, but as far as
we know, he never got one to plant itself in any major body of water.
But today, in light of the recent tragedies and seeming triumphs of
evil, Jesus’ words almost seem to taunt us.
But Jesus was not one to taunt. Nor was he one for giving useless
advice. So he must have been trying to get at something else. But what?
When we think of Jesus, many images come to mind: Rabbi, Teacher,
Good Shepherd, Worker of Miracles, Son of God, Messiah. All serious
images, these. But there is one thing about him that we often overlook.
And that is his sense of humor. You gotta admit: Jesus must have had a
pretty twisted sense of humor to pick those twelve bone-heads as his
Apostles. And God, too, to choose to work through human beings.
Look again. But this
time imagine Jesus responding with a silly grin. “Increase our faith!”
the Apostles say. And this is how Jesus responds. He paints for them a
mental picture .
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