5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
In fretful times, it is normal for people to struggle. With uncertainty, financial pressures, political instability, wars, floods and famines. No wonder people are fretful. It is normal also for courage to leave us in these moments, at least until we get our bearings. When courage leaves or the task seems too great we might well cry out to God for more. More money, more patience, more courage, or more faith.
Jesus is not saying that we need, nor indeed is he saying we have, a mustard seed’s worth of faith. He is using hyper exaggeration to make an illustrative point, that faith is so powerful a gift that even the tiniest measure has the power to uproot trees or bushes. There is no need for us to say, “Can I have some more please sir?”
Perhaps God knows what he is doing. Perhaps the measure we have been given is the measure needed? Jesus is stating using picture language that what the disciples need (and therefore what we need) is to practice getting the most out of what we have already been given. Perfecting that before we head back to the altar and ask for more. What might be done with that already granted if we could only understand its power?
We must nurture our faith. We must give attention to the discipleship journey, to continue to be attentive to the ways in which God is speaking or calling forth. Faith, and the power of faith is not down to the quantity, but in the quality and how it is nurtured. The quality of the measure we have been granted is enhanced in the practice of its application.
We might well pray “Lord, give me more faith”, but the amount that you already have is enough to connect you with the unlimited power of God to fulfil all that is required of us.
We are called to ignite the faith we have and put it to use in the world so that the world might see and hear that God is good, and then we will do more than move the shrubbery! We are called, in fact, to change the world.