Most families have certain items that are guarded carefully and kept in a safe place to be passed on to future generations. Some of us have stories that are passed on from our parents and grandparents, which form part of our history and our sense of who we are. Today we think about another kind of precious gift which must be guarded carefully – our faith, and the teachings of Jesus. We are to look after the gift of faith we have been given and ‘guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us’. Only then will we be able to pass on this precious gift.

In the Gospel the apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus uses the opportunity of the question to explain how he understands faith. With the comparison of a mustard seed, Jesus is showing his apostles, that a small but true faith has an immense power. Faith is – even small like a mustard seed – really powerful. But the power of faith is not meant to form spectacular deeds. That’s why Jesus adds the parable of the farmer’s servant to illustrate further what faith really means. The apostles know what a servant is and what can be expected of him. They know that the servant who is returning from his labour in the fields is expected to serve his master before he would eat himself – without expecting any gratitude. The answer to the apostles’ question therefore is: Small but powerful faith and selfless service are the two cornerstones of an increased faith.

The message of the Gospel is that faith is first and foremost service. Not a service that strives for recognition and gratitude, but one that does what the Lord expects of us. Those who believe will enter into the service of the Lord, who manifests himself in the least (Mt 25:31-46). Who serves the least of his brothers and sisters will therefore meet the Lord. And that is actually what motivates Christians to serve their neighbours, because meeting the Lord is far more than gratitude. Both, the power capable to uproot trees and unselfish service, are the cornerstone of an increased faith.

(Adapted from Intercom, October 2013)