“if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say
to this mulberry tree, “be uprooted and planted in the sea,’
and it would obey you.” Luke 17:6
Jesus chose the mustard seed as an image for faith because of its great potential for growth. “it is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full grown it is the largest of plants…”Matt 13:32. Like the tiny mustard seed, our growth in faith begins at Baptism, when our parents are handed a lighted candle representing the light of Christ, our faith, entrusted to their care.
Our parents, are the first to nurture our faith through family prayers, feast day celebrations, Christmas, Easter, Sunday Mass, the rich and holy routine of rearing a family. First Communion, first reconciliation, catechism classes; we learn about God’s love and forgiveness and how he became one of us to restore our brokenness. Then Confirmation, where we symbolically take the lighted candle given to our parents at Baptism and make it our own.
Our faith journey continues, but it changes. St. Paul described it this way. “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” 1 Cor 13:11. Putting aside childish things means taking up the responsibilities of adulthood. This is equally true in our growth as a person and in our growth as a Catholic Christian.
I have spoken before of the fact that our First Communion suits or dresses have long since been outgrown by our physical growth, so our First Communion faith no longer fits our spiritual growth. St. Anselm spoke of “faith in search of understanding.” Maturity implies growth in understanding. As adults we must seek a deeper understanding of the faith within us as well as the faith professed by the Church.
As a Church we have rightfully placed great emphasis on the Catholic education of our children. Sadly, we have been remiss in putting similar emphasis on the continuing faith formation of adults. For the most part adults have been left “on their own” in their faith journey. We are taking steps in the Church of Dallas to correct that situation with a new emphasis on adult faith formation, but the responsibility for nurturing and growing the mustard seed of our faith is ours.
We must never stop seeking to deepen our relationship with Jesus and responding to the Gospel message. St. Jerome said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. Jesus’ message in the Gospel is not merely something to be read or even memorized, it is something to be lived. It is the Word of God and requires a response.
When the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel is in conflict with how we live as a Catholic Christian, then we must respond by conforming our lives to the Gospel, not by attempting to conform the Gospel to our lives.
Take advantage of the adult formation programs offered by the Diocese, your parish or the School of Ministry of the University of Dallas. Join a Bible group. Pray the scriptures. Frequent the sacraments. Seek to better understand the faith that is within you.
Your faith is your mustard seed. Is it flourishing or drying up?
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