Anne O’Brien, Director of Mission at St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, reads and reflects on the Gospel from Matthew (17: 14-20) in which Jesus says, “if your faith were the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible for you”.
In today’s gospel, Jesus has just arrived in Caesarea, a pagan city full of shrines and a man comes up to him with his sick child looking for a cure; pagan idols had failed him; disciples failed him; and, so, in desperation he begs Jesus for help.
At this time, Jesus’s words echo the song of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy (6: 4-13) in today’s first reading, where Moses sings, ‘Oh foolish unwise people…’ Anne says, we get a bit of a snatch of that, but Matthew’s Jewish Christian readers would have known it and felt it. Perhaps a rush of shame, they would have felt. Christian readers would have known it and felt it. It laments the way people stray from their faith; and, yet, it turns to compassion for the Lord will see his people righted. He will take pity on his servants.
Jesus heals the boy just as he always answers people’s prayers though they may, sometimes, abandon their love for him to put their trust in other things. He does not expect us to have limitless belief. After all, faith the size of a tiny mustard seed can do wonders, he tells us that! However, he urges his followers to be full of faith and by that he means for us to be faithful. We need to live our daily lives being faithful to him, knowing in the times when we fail (and we all will) he will still bring us back. He will still help us. He will still support us.
To conclude, Anne leaves us with this little prayer:
Lord, For you nothing is impossible. Forgive us for the times when we may have followed our own ways before turning to you in prayer. Help us to keep faith with you, to believe in you, to entrust our whole lives to you. Amen