Today’s Readings: Psalm 54; Ezra 9:1-15; Matthew 17:14-21; Revelation 21:1-8
There are some passages in the Bible that are incredibly loaded in their meanings. As a result, some people love those passages and some people dislike them greatly. Take Jesus’ culminating words from today’s Gospel reading from Matthew as an example.
After chiding the disciples for their shortage of faith, Jesus is quoted as saying: “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20 from the NRSV). Folks who love the passage point to it as a vehicle of inspiration that has carried them through some of the toughest times of their lives by giving them hope that truly anything is possible. Those who dislike those words would say, “When I was diagnosed with cancer, I prayed and believed I would be cured but I’m wasn’t. I had much more faith than a mustard seed and it got me nowhere!” I’ve certainly heard both takes on the passage more than once during my eight years of ministry.
So how do I personally read this piece of Scripture?
Well, I read it with this thought in mind: my faith doesn’t necessarily alter the events that happen to me; rather, it alters the way I respond to those things that happen to me. By this I mean that my faith gives me a nearly endless supply of optimism that – no matter what happens – I’ll have the strength to see it through one way or another. Sometimes it means enduring the bad times until the good times come again. Sometimes it means having the strength to live through the difficult goodbyes and agonizing separations – believing that the loss won’t be the final word in the situation.
So how do you receive those controversial words “and nothing will be impossible for you”? Til next time…