No doubt we have all played the superpower game. You know, that game where you sit around talk about what superpower you would have if were a superhero. You would be able to fly, or have super strength, or have x-ray vision … it’s a fun game to play, fun to think about the possibilities and fun to pretend. Imagine being Superman, “faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”.
The funny thing about superpowers is that they are of no good unless you use them. Imagine Superman if he never flew, if he never raced a speeding locomotive or never stopped a single bullet. What would be the point of having those superpowers? It would be a total waste of a gift. You could even say that it would be totally unproductive. Or to use the word of today’s gospel, it would be totally “unprofitable”.
When I first read today’s gospel, I thought that the use of the word “unprofitable” was an interesting choice, but the more that I thought about it the more it felt like the perfect word. Not counterproductive, not useless, it just meant that they were not making any profit.
The people that Jesus was talking about had done nothing wrong. They did what they did, and they receive what they received, and they were only looking for what they were due, no more and no less. They were just “unprofitable”. They didn’t add anything to the conversation, they just did the minimum to get by and that was the problem, it was a waste of their superpowers, a waste of their gifts.
The first few of lines of today’s Gospel tell us of what they were wasting, “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.”
As children of God and followers of Jesus Christ, He is telling us that we have amazing tree removal superpowers. No, actually, He was telling us that we have amazing powers, amazing potential. The point of the Gospel is that we have superpowers. And that our superpowers are very real and are there for our using.
It says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can do amazing things, we can see amazing things, we can witness amazing things. If we have just that small amount of faith everything can be different. Our friends and family suddenly become people that we are called to help into heaven. If we have just that small amount of faith everything can look different. Beautiful sunrises are morning gifts from God. The top of a pinecone becomes the elegant proof of the master design that God has imprinted on the entire world. If we have just that small amount of faith the impossibles become the realities. The real presence of our Lord and Savior is among us here in this building. He is here in the spoken Gospel, He is there in the tabernacle, He is there in the person sitting next to you. Because just that small amount of faith confirms for us that we are so loved by our God that anything is possible.
That love for us is our superpower. That unquestioning, undeniable, undeserved love means that we can do anything. It means that we can uproot mulberry trees or leap tall buildings or know and witness the love that God has for all of us. The question is whether we have just that small amount of faith.
In order to be profitable servants, we have to, first, know that we have this superpower. We have to know that we are that loved. And second, we have to “say to the mulberry tree, be uprooted.” We have to say it, we have to get up and be superheroes. We actually have to do something. We have to, as it said in the second reading, “stir into flame the gift of God that you have”.
When my brother and I were little our grandmother would always encourage us to pray the rosary before going to bed. She very much believed in the power of the rosary and would tell us stories of this happening or that happening because of the graces receive through this devotion. You can imagine that five and six year old boys were not necessarily that much into staying awake long enough to say an entire rosary, but our grandmother assured us that if we were to fall asleep while saying the rosary our guardian angels would finish the rosary for us. Giving us all of the grace and all of the blessings even if we had slept through it.
Now that was different. That turned the devotion from being an ordeal into being a game, a challenge of sorts between us and our guardian angels. My brother and I would start our rosaries and see who could fall asleep the fastest. “In the name of the father and the son and the ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz” That was considered a major win.
This is probably the best example of us wasting the power of a gift. Today is not only the 27th Sunday of ordinary time it is also the feast of our guardian angels. It is the feast celebrating one of the many gifts that God has given us, namely our guardian angels. We are surrounded by these gifts from God. Look around this church. Look around this community. His gifts are everywhere.
The second reading started with, “Beloved: I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”
With the strength that comes from God!
There is our superpower! When we are able to consider what is possibility with faith the size of a mustard seed we have an entirely new game. The mustard seed game. What could we do with faith the size of a mustard seed. What could we do with faith the size of two mustard seeds.
Today’s Gospel is not a story about landscaping. It is not a story about special effects. It is a story about possibilities and perspectives. It is a story of what is possible with God by our side and in our hearts.
Remember, God is constant, He is always with us, and He always loves us.
At the end of the second reading Paul reminds us of that, he says:
The word of the Lord remains forever.
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.
From now until the end of time., always and everywhere.
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 plowing 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.'”
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