Service and Faith

11.13.18 Tues. wk. 32 – O. T. – (II)

St. Paul’s Letter to Titus  2: 1 – 8, 11 – 14

Luke 17:  7 – 10

†Jesus said to the Apostles; “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?  Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat.  Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’?  Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?  So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”         The Gospel of the Lord.


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                                  Service and Faith

†Jesus told this parable in today’s Gospel after the apostles had said to Him: “Lord, increase our faith” (as we heard in yesterday’s reading).  Many of us have asked the same thing of †Jesus in our lives – we want to have a stronger and purer faith.  Has the Lord answered any of our prayers?  “Yes” – for many of us He has – but there is still more to do.

How can faith be measured?   Well – some people measure faith by knowledge of Theology and how many initials they have after their name (P.H.D., S.T.D., S.T.L., whatever).  Some people measure faith by familiarity with Scripture – they can give chapter and verse just off the top of their head.  They think that measures their faith.  Then others measure their faith by how many prayers they recite – how many rosaries they say in a day.

How does †Jesus measure our faith?  To †Jesus, the depth of one’s faith is measured by service.  The greater the service – the deeper the faith and it’s that simple.  †Jesus lays it right out in the Gospel today.  Faith is more than professing: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty”.  Faith is about serving God in others and †Jesus explains this through the parable – the servant waiting on table.  ‘The person of Faith’ does not live by entitlement.  “I’ve done this for God – so now it is time for God to do something special for me.”  That’s not what a person of Faith says.

‘The person of Faith’ gives of themselves – even when they think – they don’t have anything else to give.  ‘The person of Faith’ gives of themselves even when they think they are at their limit – but … they still keep giving.  Pure faith, faith the size of a “mustard seed”, †Jesus said:  “Can uproot a tree”.  And †Jesus teaches us through this image: “All things are possible with God”.  We can give more – even when we don’t think we can.   We can continue to love people more – we can help the person sitting next to us – even though I may not have time any more.  Are we ready to give the Lord from our depth – regardless of what it might cost us?

In last Sunday’s Gospel we recall the story of the widow – who gave her last two coins out of love for God – to help others who were in need.  She witnessed a deep faith in God.  It takes courage to be ‘A person of faith’.  St. Paul wrote: “God did not give us the spirit of cowardice – but of power and love”. (2 Tim.1:7)  Faith is measured by my willingness to love – and love is expressed by my willingness to serve – rather than to be served.  Love is expressed as ‘self-gift’ – ‘self-donation’.  But, too often we find service humiliating – ‘that’s below me – I shouldn’t be doing that’.  Again from St. Paul: “Do not be ashamed of your testimony – bear your share of hardship for the Gospel”. (2 Tim.1:8)

What is the Gospel we believe in?  †Jesus, the Son of God, came to serve us – to the point of death on the cross.  †Jesus, the ‘Suffering Servant of God’, did that for us (pointing to the crucifix hanging on the wall behind the altar).  So the Lord honors the faithful servant who loves and serves others generously – without thinking of themselves.  For faith to be pure, our service must be pure.  We do not serve others to get praise – we do not serve others to get noticed – and we do not serve others to be rewarded.  We serve to share in the Life and the Ministry of †Jesus Christ – to imitate the Lord.

For instance – spouses serve each other to the point of sacrifice – because this shows fidelity to their vows.  Parents serve their children – even when it means putting their own activities on hold.  This is to be worthy of the gift of children.  And young people must put aside the things that they like to do (their pleasures) for the good of the family – like †Jesus did.  Remember – He wanted to stay in Jerusalem when He was 12 years old – and talk to all the ‘Scholars of the Law’ – and His mom and dad were looking for Him; and they said: “Son, you must come home”.  And what did †Jesus say?  “Yes”.  He said: “Yes”.   So children sometimes have to put aside the things they want to do – so that they too – can imitate †Jesus for the good of the family.

Those who suffer betrayal, failure, tragedy or disappointment – must put aside self-pity to reach out to others in self-donation.  Faith – the size of a mustard seed is never turned inward  – instead – it reaches out to embrace other people – thereby embracing †Jesus.

This is a model of the saint we remember in our mass today – Frances Xavier Cabrini.  She was eager to do good despite any obstacle she confronted.  She served immigrants – the poor – the abandoned – the uneducated – and the sick.  She founded orphanages – schools – and hospitals – all over North and South America.

Let us contemplate the ways that we have been called to serve.

“Lord, increase my faith.

Give me the strength to serve you – even when I am weary –

even when I am unappreciated – even when I am ridiculed –

even when it seems to be useless.

Give me the ‘Spirit of Courage’ to serve when I am ready to quit –

to love when it is not returned –

to believe you are with me – when I cannot feel you.

Lord – increase my Faith”!

The Gospel of the Lord.