Sunday Homily for October 2nd, 2016
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Anyone who enjoys gardening knows that plants have definite needs in order to thrive. Plants need good soil, enough nutrients, water, sunshine and heat in order to survive and thrive.
If a good friend gives me a gift of a plant, my response is to cherish that gift and keep it alive. I don’t rely on the friend who gave the gift to come over and water and fertilize it, making sure that it is in the right spot to fill the conditions of light and heat for that particular plant to thrive I do it myself, out of gratitude to the person who gave the gift and out of a desire for the gift to continue to grow and give pleasure.
In the Gospel today, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus’ response reminds us that faith is a gift given to us by God and passed on to us by those who love us and want us to have this precious gift. Our parents who had us baptized as infants, or those people who inspired us by their faith and helped us choose to respond to God’s call to live as disciples of Jesus handed on a precious gift that they wanted us to have and to cherish. Once we accepted the gift as our own, then we took personal responsibility to help that gift grow and thrive, in the same way that the recipient of a plant would be responsible for the continuing life of that plant.
So, how do we help our faith to grow? Having given us the gift of faith, God gives us other gifts to help that faith grow. What are some of those gifts?
First of all, we have God’s Word. The Word is proclaimed every time we gather as a faith community to celebrate our faith and particularly when we celebrate the sacraments. The Word is given to us to help us grow in our faith. In the Word, God speaks to us, reminding us of God’s love, of the call to live as disciples, of the way of life expected of a disciple. God’s speaks to each of us in the depths of our hearts, helping us to understand who we are, how we fit into our world and our church, how we can continue to build the reign of God in our world. We listen to the Word, but we must also take the Word and reflect on it, pray with it, seek understanding and insight, asking for the gift of discernment and openness to the work of the Holy Spirit as we respond to the Word.
The sacraments are also gifts that God gives us to help us grow in our faith. Regular participation in the Eucharist, receiving communion, nourishes and strengthens our faith. As we are nourished, as we hear the Word and have a better understanding of our mission, then we are sent forth to live that gift of faith and share the gift of God’s love with others. Regular celebration of Reconciliation helps us grow in our faith as well. In sitting down with the minister of the sacrament and taking the time to reflect together with him on our lives, choices, actions and attitudes, we come to a clearer understanding of who we are as disciples of Jesus. We grow in our faith response to the call to discipleship and to a deeper relationship with God and others.
The faith community is another gift that God gives to help us grow in our faith. In gathering as community, we share our faith with one another, receive the support and encouragement we need to continue to live out the gift that God has given us. Faith sharing is a powerful way to come to a deeper appreciation of that gift and to help us grow as Christians. Prayer together and alone is also a necessary element in our faith growth.
The wonder of God’s love is that God gives us the gift of faith and then also gives us many gifts to help us grow in that faith. The disciples ask Jesus: “Increase our faith.” Jesus response reminds us that we have everything necessary within us and around us to help our faith increase. It is up to us to take advantage of those gifts. As we use those gifts, we express our gratitude to God for all the gifts we have been given, just as caring for or using a gift someone has given us is an expression of gratitude to the giver of that gift.