Bread for the World calls attention to new hunger data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released September 7. For the third year in a row a record high 14.5% of American households suffer food insecurity. What is worse, the USDA reports 25% of African-American and 26% of Hispanic households experience food insecurity compared with 10.8% of white households. That’s a lot of folks having trouble putting food on the table.
William Cantwell Smith describes faith as the act of the heart that establishes our relationship to the ultimate. The word credo in Latin illustrates his finding across religious traditions. Credo combines two root words — cor (heart) and do (give).
I believe means I give my heart, my whole self. To believe is to belove, to entrust ourselves to the ultimate source of our being, to affirm our belonging in the whole web of life.
This kind of faith anchors us in the world. It establishes the ground we walk on. It engages us with the inexhaustible holy mystery in which we live. Starry nights, vast oceans, blooming flowers, newborn babies — all invite and inspire awe and relationship to the source of all being. Encountering Jesus — hearing his teaching, witnessing his compassionate actions — invited hi disciples to believe he was the messiah and bind their lives with his.
Jesus told the apostles, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, 1Be uprooted and planted in the sea,1 and it would obey you.”
Jesus’ saying about faith insists that faith can command a sycamore to be uprooted from the ground and replanted in the sea. Why transplant a tree in the sea? The exaggeration makes the point―faith can do the impossible, the unimaginable. “Faith can move mountains” is such a familiar saying we don’t notice the exaggeration.
Jesus’ saying makes a little fun of the wonder we often want our faith to do. We may not want to uproot trees or transplant them where they won’t grow. But we do want to uproot every danger from the paths of those we love, heal their every ill, transplant every pain, move seemingly immovable biases out of their way.
What experiences have you had of faith moving mountains or uprooting deeply rooted wrongs?
Jesus tells the story of a poor beggar name Lazarus and a rich man. Both died and their roles reverse. The rich man suffers while Lazarus rests in the arms of Abraham. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to bring him some water.
Abraham replied, “Remember how well you lived when you were alive and how miserable Lazarus was. Now he has found comfort, but you have found torment. He cannot help you. Between you and us is a great abyss that no one can cross.”
The great abyss that yawns between Lazarus and the rich man in the abode of the dead exists already in the distance between them when they are alive. The rich man never notices Lazarus begging nor responds to him. He doesn’t know the other man exists. The rich man has no idea that his riches are anything but well-deserved blessings from God. He has no other ethic than spending his money on himself. He builds no connection between himself and the poor man at his gate.
Who begs at your gate?
Holy One, we all have experienced times of grief and loss.
We bring those memories to you.
Heal us and teach us compassion for other who also grieve.
We offer our prayers in gratitude for your continuing love for each of us, especially when we feel lost.
Heal us, loving God.
Teach us, loving God,
the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to change the things we can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.