"If Only ..."
“Increase our faith.”
If only I had more faith, then I could endure this.
If only I believed better, my life would not be as difficult.
If only I knew exactly what God was up to, I could act better and do His will.
If only…If only…If only there was…more.
The apostles’ request of Jesus is not so hard to understand. Part of the human condition is to somehow desire “more” – wholeness. Much of our lives seems to be a search for whatever it may be that we think can make us complete, and often some of the toughest misery that we face comes from a misguided search in unhealthy ways toward “wholeness.”
Additionally, we often find ourselves hesitant to act until this “more” comes along. “I won’t get married until I make enough money to pay for a big, beautiful wedding”; “We won’t have children until we are ‘settled’”; “I’ll volunteer once I have myself together.” These hesitancies are natural parts of our own insecurities, but they are also a natural part of our human longing for God.
The prophet Habakkuk expresses this frustration, this desire for God to “fill in the void.” “How long, O Lord?... I cry to you…but you do not intervene.” He’s looking around at his situation, and the situation of his people, and wonders when God will do something about it. He wonders, “What more do I need, do we need?” And he turns to God for the answer.
The apostles had a difficult task ahead of them. They were charged with taking the faith and teachings of Christ out to the world – a world that did not necessarily want to hear them. Their request that Jesus “increase their faith” comes at the center of their relationship with him, and yet it seems so far from what Jesus really means in sharing his life and love with them. The implication of their request is that if Jesus “increases their faith,” then – then! – they would be able to do everything that He is calling them to do.
The prophet Habakkuk received a response to his plea. In short, God says, “Be patient. You are on my time, and I am in control.” “The vision has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.” It is by faith that the believer manages, and by faith we shall live.
Jesus echoes this response and goes further. Faith is enough, he seems to say –even the tiniest bit of faith. Faith that God loves us and has a plan for us all, even when we do not know what that plan is. For us, this faith calls us to trust Jesus. Trust Him, that He can help you endure any trial. Trust Him, that He knows what He is doing in your life. Trust Him, that He can accomplish the good that He intends through you.
This is our call as a community of faith – as a Parish. Our actions as a community of disciples must also reflect that trust in Jesus and faith that believes that we can accomplish anything. It is this trust that is at the heart of our appeal for stewardship of our gifts on behalf of the Church. Our faithful, sacrificial giving is not simply a financial transaction wherein we give to the church so that the church can “do stuff.” Rather, our faithful giving is what empowers our shared discipleship.
By now, most of you should have received our “Take the Next Step” letter in the mail at home. We have more of those materials here today. In light of our shared faith in Christ, I want to extend the invitation to all of you to consider your sacrificial gift to our parish and to see it as more than simply money given for goods received. Instead, how does our gift to the church reflect our trust in God and our faith that the good work He has begun in us will be fruitful?
Because of your faithful sacrifices, our parish has been able to do wonderful things on behalf of the Kingdom of God. Our St. Vincent DePaul ministry has been able to assist 420 families; our parish religious education program educates about 500 children in the faith; 340 kids and adults have been prepared to receive the Sacraments this year; 1,600 people each weekend are nourished by God’s Word and the Body and Blood of Jesus at 7 Masses; couples have been united in Holy Matrimony, children have received the gift of eternal life in Baptism, and families have received support in sending their children to Catholic school; to say nothing of the regular, day-to-day operation of the parish!
All of this is possible only because you and I support our parish through faith-filled, intentional, and often sacrificial giving. Please take the time to consider that gift and complete the commitment cards provided. You can place them in the Offertory basket, or you can take them home, pray about them, and send them in to the Parish Office.
Together, we join the apostles in their hunger for Christ to “increase our faith.” Jesus reminds us that even the smallest amount of that faith can accomplish incredible things. What a blessing we have to be able to do that word together as a community of disciples! Thank you for sharing this journey with us!