Today, Anne O’Brien, Director of Mission, reads from Luke’s Gospel (17: 1-6) in which the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Anne says the news we hear often seems full of shocking and cruel stories. We wonder how anyone can be so terrible sometimes, so inhuman. We hear about crimes that sometimes revolt us. Most of the time children are hurt; elderly people can be defrauded; or crowds of people being attacked.
It we were not shocked from time to time it would mean that we were desensitized to sin and evil.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us of such things. ‘Obstacles’, he says, ‘are sure to come’. Obstacles, says Anne, is an unusual word – difficult to translate from the original Greek – it really means ‘temptations to sin or scandals’ are sure to come.  Jesus gives the example of a child being damaged. It is indeed shocking. He speaks of it being better to be drowned in the sea than to harm a child but then he goes on to talk about forgiveness. For he has come to save us. No one falls beyond the mercy of God and we are to offer mercy to others too.

St Francis wrote to his brothers and this is what he said, ‘There should be no brother in the whole world who has fallen into sin, no matter how far he has fallen, who will ever fail to find forgiveness for the asking, if only he look into your eyes’; that’s such a lovely expression, if only he will look into your eyes.  The eyes are so often the windows to our souls. If they look into our eyes, do people see forgiveness?  I wonder what people see when they look our eyes. I would truly hope they see love and forgiveness.

To conclude, Anne shares this prayer:
Father, your Son came in the world to save sinners, to convert us and bring into your way of living. Grant that as we are drawn to you by your eyes of love, so by our eyes, too, we may reveal your tender mercy. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.