Jesus said that if you have faith as little as the size of a mustard seed, you will be able to move mountains and uproot trees. Really?If this were a television show, I bet you, Jesus would have added, “Please, don’t try this at home!” Do you have faith? Have you ever uprooted any tree by word of mouth? Have you heard of the Saints or even Jesus himself uprooting a tree by word of mouth? Does it mean that they have no faith? Have you imagined how crazy it would be if we all start moving trees around with words? Maybe if I like a tree on your property, I could just command it to come to mine by night, and when you wake up in the morning you command it back to your property.
This is not a call for us to force God to do what is unreasonable. This is not a call for us to obtain cheap wonders from God. The mulberry tree has a very deep and extensive root system that is almost impossible to completely uproot and replant. The message from Jesus here is that with faith, we can achieve what might seem impossible in the eyes of human beings; with faith, we can uproot the deep-rooted system of injustice and violence in our society.
Jesus used this imagery when he was instructing his followers on the demands of discipleship. He said the punishment for leading another person into sin would be worse than being thrown into the ocean with a millstone around the neck. He added that it is the responsibility of his followers to correct those who go astray and that his followers must always forgive those who ask for pardon. It was upon hearing of the challenging demands of discipleship that his apostles asked for an increase in faith. We can understand from the response of Jesus that it is not the size of the faith that counts but how willing we are to make use of the little that is available to us. With faith, as little as the size of a mustard seed, we can achieve even what the world sees as impossible.
When the apostles heard the requirements of discipleship, they felt overwhelmed. About 600 years before the time of the apostles, the Prophet Habbakuk also felt overwhelmed by all that was going on in his community. Under the reign of King Jehoiakim, things were not going well; injustice, oppression of the weak, violence and evil of all sorts were the talk of town. Habbakuk on behalf of the people then asked God, “How long will this state of violence last?” and the Lord answered: 1. There may not be an immediate change now; 2. But the people must not be discouraged; 3. God will intervene at the proper time; 4. Then the upright and the just will live and triumph while the wicked will succumb.
We are gathered at Mass with different names and different faces; so are our stories different. What is the tree in your life at this moment that you want to be uprooted? Does it have to do with your health? Your relationship? Your family? A false allegation you are facing? The political situation in the country? Discrimination/segregation? Are you at this point asking God, How long will this situation last? How long will God be silent? How long will God remain on vacation? The Lord is speaking to you like He did to Habakkuk: 1. Wait for my appointed time; 2. While you wait, remain courageous; your courage must not take vacation. Jesus says, you must use the little faith you have, St. Paul says, “Fan into flame the gift that you have”; 3. God will intervene at the proper time.
Divine intervention is sure, but will you still be hanging in there when he intervenes? Be sure not to have given up all hope and disappeared from the scene when God will intervene. When the brothers of Joseph sold him into slavery, they thought they had killed his dreams, but he kept holding onto his God even when it seemed like God had abandoned him to suffer the consequences of false allegations; his courage did not take vacation. And when the appointed time came, Joseph was promoted and he became a governor in a foreign land (Egypt), and his brothers came to bow before him and to seek his help. You have all it takes to succeed; use whatever is available to you now; do not give up on your dream. As it is said, “Good things come to those who wait patiently, but better things come to those who pray while they wait.”