Saint Therese

St. Therese has an upside-down interpretation of the mustard seed of faith that rings true.

The life of faith is the greatest, most exhilarating life in the world. Sometimes. Other times it is the most tedious, thankless life in the world.

It’s supposed to be that way.

The Church explains why in Sunday’s readings, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

A Sunday warning: You may not believe anything Jesus has to say, at first.

First, he says “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.”

Um … I don’t know about you, but I can’t do that, and no one I know can. Does that mean we don’t have even a smidgeon of faith?

Second, he says, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?” 

It seems to me like most of the congregation should raise their hands. That’s exactly what we would say. 

Few of us would say what Jesus says is the expected response to such a servant: “Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished.”

But think again and what Jesus says makes a lot of sense. First, the mustard seed.

I love St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s take on the mustard seed. She wrote, “for a soul whose faith equals but a tiny grain of mustard seed, God works miracles, in order that this faith which is so weak may be fortified; yet for his intimate friends, for his Mother, he did not work miracles until he had put their faith to test.”

In other words, according to her, Jesus is not saying, “any amount of faith can do miracles.” He is saying, “Only small amounts of faith can do miracles.”

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