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Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Deut. 6:4-13 & Mt. 17:14-20

There is a familiar ring to the words in today's first reading about loving God with one's whole being. This is because Jesus quotes those very words in the Gospel. These words formed part of a prayer or profession of faith which every devout lsraelite recited daily. They were written on a tiny scroll, placed in a small box and worn on their foreheads. The whole idea was that the love of God was to be the guiding principle of their whole lives.

They considered those words to be a profession of faith which, in the Bible, is understood as being something practical, not merely theoretical. This is illustrated by the Gospel story, when the disciples wanted to put their faith into action by trying to cure the lunatic boy, but they failed. Jesus told them that their faith was simply not sufficient to combat the devil who had possessed the child. How disappointed the disciples must have felt! They believed in Jesus, they had followed Him wherever he led them, yet now He was telling them that their faith was smaller than the tiniest of seeds. Evidently they still had a lot to learn about trusting God and being confident in His power.

What about our faith? Perhaps it wavers from time to time. We find it difficult to place ourselves completely in God's hands, like trusting children. We struggle to cope with our problems by ourselves, instead of asking for His help. But we should not despair if our faith is small and weak. Fortunately, like the disciples we have Jesus with us, and His power can supplement our faith.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of faith and we ask Jesus to teach us how to develop and strengthen that faith so that we, too, can overcome the hidden evil in our world.

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