Monday, November 12, 2012

Set Right What Remains To Be Done

Set Right What Remains To Be Done

November 12, 2012
Memorial of Saint Josaphat, bishop and martyr

He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur.  It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin."  Luke 17:1-2


Our piety mirrors that of the disciples.  Our piety is what we do to increase our faith.  Our piety is what we do to set things right.  We need to have right relationships within our families, within our communities, and within our spiritual lives in order to lead others to the path upon which we walk.  Let our prayer for today be the same.  Increase our faith. Amen.


Jesus acknowledges that temptations exist in the world.  He knows that since Adam, humans have been pulled in the direction of sin.  This inevitability is at once our sentence and redemption.  Because if we have true remorse in our hearts, our frequent occasions of sin can and will be forgiven. 
But there is a line in the sand that Jesus draws just like when he challenged those without sin to cast the first stone at the woman accused of adultery.  That line is that there is may be no forgiveness if we cause others to sin.
Why would Jesus use the example of tossing a tree in the ocean as a symbol of faith?    In other Synoptic Gospels, he uses the image of a mountain.  If he switches the analogy to a tree, why mulberry and not the majestic cedars of Lebanon or one of the many other varieties of trees? 
Maybe Jesus wants us to remember that he was executed on a cross made from the timbers of a tree.  He has faith and faith so great it will save us.  Maybe this story is symbolic of his human desire (temptation) to get rid of any tree which could be used for his execution.  Yet, he does not.  He submits himself to hang from a tree in order to increase our faith. 


Absent faith the size of the tiniest mustard seed, we can accomplish nothing.  With even the smallest amount of faith, we can accomplish much.  We can build cathedrals.  We can establish nations.  We can land on the moon.  But without faith, we will not be able to build up our lives or the lives of those around us.
Faith is one side of the coin of life.  Faith must come first.  Once we have faith, much action can be accomplished to build the Kingdom.  No one I know wants to cast a mountain into the sea.  No one wants to uproot a mulberry tree and throw it into the ocean.  However, whatever action you would like to see accomplished may be much more successful when we approach that with faith -- faith that we do not act alone.

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