In Matthew’s gospel there’s a great story about a man who brings his epileptic son to Jesus. The man explains that his son suffers so badly that he often “falls into the fire and into the water” and that he had already taken him to Jesus’ disciples (who had been empowered by Jesus to heal) but they failed to cure him. Jesus flips. “You faithless and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you! How much longer must I put up with you! Bring him here to me!” He cures the boy instantly. When the disciples see that Jesus was able to cure the epilepsy they ask why they couldn’t do the same. Jesus gives them the reason: “Because of your little faith.” Little faith – Oligopistia in Greek.
In the 17th century people without faith were called nullifidians. Nice word, eh? You nullifidians! How much longer do I have to put up with you! It’s interesting to note that in the story Jesus followers are first accused of having no faith at all (nullifidian) but later are told that actually their faith is just too small… petty fidian!
Where do you weigh in on the faith (fides) & trust (pistis) scale? Null, lightweight or heavyweight? (That was hypothetical – I know the answer – or at least I know mine… I’m a petty fidian. Don’t guess I’m alone).
But one (!) of the great things about faith is that, in fact, we don’t really need that much of it! Even a little bit goes a long way. To our and the disciple’s surprise, Matthew’s gospel story ends with Jesus saying that even those with little faith can do great things: “For truly I tell 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; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Recently (or more precisely, again!) we have done something really great with our faith at St. Alban’s Church. Everybody gave a little and we all gave a lot. Here’s how:
A couple of months ago we had the most successful annual Parish Gala ever. The Gala theme was TLC (short for transforming the lives of children through education). As of this past Friday the following gifts were given: $8,500 was given to Hope for Humanity to support the Hope and Resurrection School in South Sudan ($3,500 in salary for teacher Marcellina Mbambu and $5,000 to cover the cost of food and school supplies for an unanticipated increase of 31 new students in the school http://www.hopeforhumanityinc.org/; $6,424 was provided to purchase playground equipment for the kindergarten and for tiling the outdoor stage area at St. Savior School in Zarka, Jordan http://www.afedj.org/our-impact/education; $7500 was given to purchase a new math curriculum (and train teachers to teach it) at The Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys in SE DC http://www.bishopwalkerschool.org/; $3,500 was given to a rapid re-housing subsidy through St. Alban’s Crossroads Housing Initiative; and $3,500 was given to purchase 5 desktop computers for the Episcopal Center for Children in NW DC http://eccofdc.org/.
Oh ye of little faith, thank you. A little goes a long way for those who believe…
Truly I tell you,
whoever says to this mountain,
“Be taken up and cast into the sea”
– and does not doubt but believes it will transpire –
it will be done.