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The disciples asked, “Why could we not drive the demon out?” Jesus said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to 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. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:19-20 )
Jesus intends for us to move mountains. Jesus wants every Christian to be his presence here on earth, doing what he did and more (John 14:12). He gave us his Holy Spirit so that we could do it. The New Testament is full of reports about miracles done through faith-filled followers. So why are we so powerless today? We have faith, right? Is it at least the size of a mustard seed?
Jesus didn’t go around changing the geographic landscape of Israel. Scripture never tells us that he moved an actual mountain. What he changed was the landscape of people’s hearts — but only when people were willing to have their inner mountains laid low and their paths made straight. They had to be willing. God does not move inside closed or rebellious hearts, because he won’t go against our free will. He can (and does) change the landscape around the rebellious in order to invite them to change. He never quits trying to win our hearts.
Faith the size of a mustard seed
Let’s look at the reason why Jesus challenged his disciples to seek more faith. They had tried and failed to get rid of a demon. The reason why demons attach themselves to people is a mountain: a mountain of sin. But Jesus didn’t say that the demonized boy needed more faith. It was his trainees who needed it, the people whom he would later depend on to continue his ministry.
This includes you and me. Every baptized Christian is called to continue the ministry of Christ.
We need to accept this responsibility and see ourselves as dependent on Christ’s Holy Spirit for fulfilling the mission (all the responsibilities of the mission, including the working of miracles), or else we’ll be accountable for miracles that didn’t happen and hearts that were not converted. Saying “yes” to this is the seed that God himself will nourish so that it grows.
Is our “yes” the size of a mustard seed?
The disciples of Matthew 17 had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Faith is a fruit of life in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We are a post-Pentecost people. We already have the Spirit who works miracles (Galatians 3:5).
A big reason why we don’t move mountains is the world in which we live and how much we’ve been influenced by it. I, too, am a product of a secular culture. To have the kind of faith that Jesus expects from us, we need to ask ourselves: “What has the world been telling me that reduces my belief in miracles? What have I heard or witnessed that convinced me that the Christian faith is not powerful enough to move mountains? Or that I should not think about demons and learn to do spiritual warfare? What has made my faith impotent?”
And then let’s go to Mass and pay attention to the miracle that takes place on the altar. Mass is the perfect place for increasing our faith. If you can, go to Mass every day, or at least more often than you have been, to build up your faith by witnessing and participating in the miracle of the Eucharist. Receive the full presence of Jesus into yourself. The world does not know this supernatural gift. You do. The Eucharist is a giant seed that really can move mountains. Ask him to move within your mind the mountains of worldly influences that have made your faith less than what he promised it could be.
While you’re there, pay attention to the other people at Mass. Who else has overcome the world? Surround yourself with others who believe in miracles.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica
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