Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I heard recently on a retreat for priests about the importance of being a father to those in the parish. I had heard this before but it really touched me this time. The reason for celibacy for priests is not just a practical point but so that priests may truly have many children, even some who are older than us. More than any other name my mom calls me ‘father’ and not just because I am a priest. She says the same thing to my brother. Perhaps it is the name that she uses the most. And when I show her a picture of her father she always knows who it is. Not so when I show her a picture of herself or of her kids. The fatherhood relationship is very deep in us or can be very deep depending upon our history. And this will help us to see that my real father is God, my daddy, my poppy, my father.
Jesus has only one overriding purpose: that we kindle a life of faith in our souls little by little so that we would have the same vision of the world and ourselves that he has (Luke 17: 5-10). He uses a great image to get this point across: the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds and yet it grows into the largest of bushes. God is searching for the smallest sign of faith in us so that he can stoke it and make it grow.
A couple who never comes to church, who are not married and will probably never come back if they ask for Baptism for their child, the Church does it. Why? Because the fact that they ask for Baptism shows at least a little bit of faith. For me this shows the mercy of God and his desire to reach everyone.
The movie Little Boy is about a small boy who prays a lot and does works of mercy for his dad to return soon from the war. At one point he is frustrated and starts to pray that the mountain will move, and he keeps trying, and there’s a tremor or small earthquake and the mountain comes closer to him. The people in town are amazed. It is an excellent movie for the whole family.
If we are honest and see that my faith is weak how can we have the faith of this little boy, how can it grow so that it helps me in my daily life as a parent and adult? Well, the best thing you can do now is come to the talks we have on Mondays and Thursdays at 8 PM. For me it is amazing that after a few weeks people who come have more peace with their struggles and they have more hope.
An additional way to grow in faith is an old French method used by many saints: use your eyes, your hearts and your hands. For example, with today’s gospel first use your eyes to imagine Jesus speaking about the mustard seed. He just told his disciples that they have to forgive always, seven times seven, which means forever. Be another person present when Jesus is speaking. You can also see how the seed has grown a few years later. Try to visualize it and imagine him explaining it.
Then use your heart to desire a stronger faith and wish for it and ask for it. Imagine your life that one day you will have this kind of faith. Lastly, use your hands, which means to do it. It could be repeating it to ourselves or even outloud, not on the bus, “Lord, increase my faith” or “I believe, help my unbelief.” Or “Jesus, help me or have mercy on me.” The more we say it the more something changes inside of us. Or to do something you and I are afraid to do. Call that person that you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
The word ‘meditate’ in Hebrew means to “say it over and over.” You can write it down also but when the word is in your mouth many times over it happens, it takes effect.
It is good to have faith to do difficult things in life or impossible things, but it is essential that we have faith to do the routine tasks of life and raising kids and having friends. We are all servants or stewards in this world. When we make an act of faith and do something we thought was impossible for us don’t expect a reward. The gospel says we are only doing what a servant should do. Do it for God and for the benefit of the other person. Even if you do it to look good or for vanity, do it anyway, and then when you do it a second or third or twentieth time do it for God.
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