Today’s readings deal with the theme of gratitude…of giving thanks. The word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word for “the act of giving thanks”. Our Eucharist is first and foremost an action of giving thanks to our God. The readings portray two remarkable foreigners. In the first reading we meet Naaman, a foreigner, a powerful commander of one of Israel’s enemy’s army. In the Gospel we meet a leper, an outcast not only because of his leprosy but because he is a Samaritan. The actions of gratitude of the two foreigners are truly admirable, but the most remarkable lesson may be found in the character of God. In the healing of both foreigners, we see the universal scope of God’s salvation. In both instances, we are shown that God’s love and salvation has no ethnic or racial boundaries or borders. God’s love is universal and without limits. The only fitting response to God’s wondrous love for us is joyful thanksgiving and a willingness to emulate this love and healing by following Jesus’ example. Jesus calls us to reach out to the leper, to the lost, the lonely, the outcast and the immigrant and the refugee…all those denied justice and whom the world despises. We are called to embrace them all…to be the loving arms of our God present in the midst of hatred, violence, racism and marginalization. What am I grateful for in my life? Who are the lepers, the outcasts, the marginalized in my life that I am called to open up my arms to and embrace?
In today’s Gospel we hear the apostles asking Jesus to increase their faith, a seemingly appropriate request. But Jesus rebuffs their request. Why do they need more faith...they were with Jesus in the flesh…they had seen his miracles first hand, they had heard his preaching…what more did they need? Perhaps they were fearful of their doubts, perhaps they saw that some of them had more faith than others within their group. Perhaps the one who asked wanted to impress Jesus or possibly he was struggling with his own faith in Jesus. Regardless of the reason for the question, Jesus responds basically telling them all that however much faith they have, it is sufficient to do all things.
I often have conversations with folks about faith and doubt, so often people express a sense of shame or embarrassment at what they perceive as “a lack of faith”. And yet in today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that even faith the size of a mustard seed is sufficient! That leaves all kinds of room for doubt…but Jesus focuses on the power of that “tiny faith” and the reality that with even a little faith great things can happen!
My takeaway from this Gospel is that while we all have doubts, just like the apostles, the faith we do have is sufficient to do what we have been called to do! In and through the power of the Holy Spirit, that lives within each one of us, we can indeed respond to the Gospel way of life, building up the Reign of God through working for justice and building peace in the world. In this moment in our nation that we find ourselves we need more than ever to rely on our faith that God is present with us, in the suffering of our sisters and brothers and gives us the strength we need to respond to their suffering. What are my doubts and where is my faith strong? What actions will I take this week to live out my discipleship, to build up the Reign of God?
Fr. Tim Hickey, C.S.Sp.
Our Lady Queen of Peace
2700 South 19th Street
Arlington, Virginia, 22204, USA
Office hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm (closed on federal holidays)Weekend Mass Schedule
Saturday Vigil: 5:30pm
Sunday: 8:00am, 9:30am, 11:15am,
6:00pm (Young Adult Mass)