Big faith

27th Sunday Of Ordinary Time, Year C

There are numerous truths which are difficult to explain and make them understood. Jesus was aware of this fact and so he used parables or referred to objects or situations which were familiar to his listeners, as he did in today’s Gospel. First, he referred to the mustard seed. Unlike today, at that time, everyone knew what a mustard seed was and what it looked like. Mustard trees were common. In the second part of the Gospel, he used the relationship between a servant and his master to clarify his teaching.

Did you ever have questions like these coming to mind: “If I had more faith, this would not have happened”, “Had I prayed more, he would have been healed”, “Had I had more faith, I would have been a better parent/husband/wife.” When we hear news about wars and atrocities, acts of terrorism, and natural disasters, we may even doubt the presence of God. But in reality, what is faith? Today, Jesus tells us, “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.” Faith cannot be measured! Jesus speaks of faith the size of a mustard seed. It is not quantity but quality, that matters. Difficult situations, and the problems of daily life, should not make us doubt God’s presence. We should instead, turn to him, because he is ever so near, and God is faithful to his promises.

Faith strengthens when we recognise that all comes from God; it strengthens when whatever we do, we do it in humility and for the glory of God. We are to consider ourselves servants of God. Therefore, when we do something, we should not expect gratitude, since “we have done what we were obliged to do,” we did what was expected from us. 

Faith is a relationship of love and trust. It is a gift which God gives to each and every one of us. Jesus is our true model. Although Jesus met with trials and difficulties, and ended on a cross, his faith never faltered. We have the same faith Jesus had. The relationship Jesus has with God the Father is perfect, his love and trust in God are complete. So, can we look at the apostles’ request, to “increase our faith,” as an appeal for a deeper relationship with God? Were they asking to trust God more? This too, should be our wish.

A reading from the Gospel of Luke (Lk 17, 5-10)

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “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.

“Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from ploughing 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
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Read the Gospel story so that you are familiar with it.
  2. Reflect on what the Gospel story is saying to you. Which points would you highlight and why?
  3. How would you describe your faith?
  4. Prayer and reading the Word of God help us to increase our knowledge of God and therefore also help us to strengthen our relationship with him. This in turn, strengthens our faith. Make time to pray and read scripture every day. Start by allocating a short time, when this becomes part of your daily routine, you may increase the time.
  5. As parents, how are you helping your children to grow in faith? Do you prioritise their Christian formation and yours? 
  6. Together with your family find the right time to read this Gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare;
    i. The Bible reading from St Luke (LK 17, 5-10)
    ii. A candle
    iii. Cover the table with a green cloth
    v. A computer/laptop with the readings and clips
  7. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested).
  8. Feel free to adapt to your situation
  9. Be creative 😊 

Have you ever seen mummy, daddy, or someone else plant a seed? What do they do after planting it? Do they care for it or disregard it completely? What happens when they care for the plant? (it grows and it becomes a beautiful plant or tree) Today, Jesus mentions a mustard seed. We use mustard when cooking. Do your parents use mustard in their cooking?

  • Having faith in God means that we trust God, because we know that he only wants what is good for us
  • A dark scarf to be used as a blindfold
  • A globe of the world or a picture of the map of the world (search the internet)
  • Read the activity beforehand

Today we will start with a game. You are going to leave the room, then mummy or daddy will come to bring you back. Give a good look around you before leaving the room. (note to parents, before starting the activity, put various obstacles in the room, when the children go out, you may remove them. Before bringing the children in, blindfold them)

Mummy or daddy will help you cross the room. Remember where there where things in the middle. Your parents will help you, however it is best to remember how high or big, the things where, so that you do not bump into them and hurt yourselves. 

(note to parents: hold their hands and take them from one side of the room to the other, if for example there was a box near the armchair, tell them that they have arrived near the armchair, when they are at the other side, remove the blindfold).

What did you feel during this game? Before leaving the room, there were many things in the middle of the room, when you came back, you were not able to see. Why did you trust mummy/daddy in helping you to cross the room? (allow the children to answer, you may help them to realise that they trusted you because you love them and you would not have allowed them to be hurt)

You trusted your parents, because you know them, you know that they love you and that they protect you, they will not allow you get hurt. Faith is similar. When we come to know God, we realise that God loves us, that what he asks of us, is for our own good. God never asks us to do something which is not right. Faith is when we trust in God, whom we cannot see, in the same way you trusted your parents during the game.

In the second part of the Gospel, Jesus speaks about the servant and his master. Jesus is teaching us that when we love God, we would want to do whatever pleases him. Even if it is something small, God is pleased and God can use this to do great things. For example, you are going to school, and you see your friend crying in the car, he does not want to go to school. You go near him and invite him to enter school with you, and he accepts. You did not do something huge, you just asked him to enter school with you, however you positively changed his day! Had you not approached him, he could have been sad all day long! 

Look at the globe of the world. Can you find Malta? Can you find a place called Israel? This is where Jesus and his friends lived. Jesus taught in this country and he later wanted his friends to continue teaching others. What would have happened had his friends refused to do as Jesus asked? We, who live in Malta, would not have got to know Jesus’ teachings! You see? We should never give up on doing something which is good, because God can change what we do into something huge!

Listen to this song, which says that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains! In today’s Gospel, Jesus said that it could uproot a mulberry tree. Jesus is not saying that we can work magic, but, as we previously said, when we act as God asks, God can do something which we would not have managed to do on our own. 

Faith as small as a mustard seed.

Sign of the Cross.

Today, 2nd October, is the feast of the Guardian Angel. The Guardian Angel helps us to make good choices, as God wishes us to do. Get used to saying this prayer every day, when you wake up and before going to sleep. Visit The Guardian Angel prayer.

Today, Jesus is going to teach us about faith, and that whatever we do, we should do it, to please God. The Gospel starts with this phrase, “faith the size of a mustard seed.” Do you think this is a big or small seed? (note to parents, search the internet to show the children the size of a mustard seed). Is Jesus saying that we need a lot of faith, or a little faith? Let us hear what Jesus is going to continue telling us.

  • The more we know God, the more we will trust God and our faith will be stronger
  • The picture of the tree
  • Pencil

Do you believe in God? (allow the children to answer)

What do you understand, by believing in God?

Let us watch a short clip about a tightrope walker. What impressed you in this clip?

There are times when we say that we believe in God. We believe that God loves us, that God wants what is good for us, however when we make choices, we may choose according to our whims and not according to God’s wishes. What do you do when you do something wrong and merit a punishment? Do you lie or say the truth? What do you do when your friends make fun of someone else? Do you join them? If there is mass before school starts, do you go to mass, or continue playing with your friends? And if you go, do you invite your friends to join you, or are you embarrassed to tell them that you go to mass? 

In the clip, we saw how everyone was amazed at Blondin, everyone believed that he was able to take one of them from one side to the other. However, no one was ready to volunteer and trust Blondin with his life! In the clip, we saw his mother volunteering, however this did not happen in reality, though there was once someone who did cross with Blondin. The clip shows Blondin’s mother as someone, who not only said that she believed in his ability, but she showed her belief, when she trusted her life in his hands. This is what Jesus wants to teach us today; we do not only say that we believe in God. We also want to  do what God wants us to do. 

Jesus also wants to teach us about our actions. He speaks about the relationship between the servant and the master. We are like the servants; God is the master. When we do something good, we should not seek applause and praise. We should do what is good because this is what God asks of us. This does not mean that we are not glad when we are praised for our actions and talents. Yet, the praise should not be the reason which motivates us. 

We said that we should have faith in God and we show that we believe when we do what God wants. How can we persevere in our faith? Our faith is strengthened the more we know God. Jesus likens faith to a seed. For a seed to grow into a plant or tree, and to bear fruit, we need to care for it. The same can be said for faith. Faith is a gift from God, however we need to care for it. How do you think we can strengthen our faith? (read the Bible, go to mass, live as God wishes, pray, read the lives of saints, whatever we do, we do it for the glory of God)

In today’s activity, you have a picture of a tree with roots. The roots give the tree, the nutrients it needs to grow. In the space below the roots, write what you need to do to strengthen your faith. Put the picture in your room as a reminder of what you need to do to have stronger faith. 

When you are ready, listen to, Faith.

Sign of the cross.

Today, 2nd October, is the feast of the Guardian Angel. The Guardian Angel helps us to make good choices, as God wishes us to do. Get used to saying this prayer every day, when you wake up and before going to sleep. Visit The Guardian Angel prayer.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.