Fanning the flame of faith

Is there anything better than a blazing log fire on a cold winter’s morning? Clearly the answer is no – but what is better is if someone else gets the fire going for you – especially when you are a little child and you have no clue as to how to get a fire going. When I was very small, our family had a wood fire in the lounge-room (it was eventually replaced by a much easier to light, control and clean gas heater) and it was a very magical item for a small boy already showing minor signs of pyromania. But in the early mornings, the fire from the previous night would have died down, and I lacked the knowledge or permission to get the fire going again. But thankfully dad would come to the rescue and transform the smallest and dullest of dying embers into a raging fire once again with only the know-how of a wizard and the gift of a few pieces of paper, small kindling and a few gentle breaths. The image that St Paul uses in his encouraging message to his young disciple Timothy is inspired by a similar scene. Each of us has already received the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives – at least sacramentally, if not experientially – but so often we allow such a precious gift to diminish, dwindle and all too often die. Paul encourages us – like he encourages Timothy – to fan this gift into a flame once again – because this was the point of the gift in the first place.

In the Gospel, the disciples no doubt thought they were being very bold and courageous to cry out to Jesus to “increase our faith”. You would expect that Jesus would honour their desire and gladly grant their request with greater faith. But his answer can take us by surprise if we think that faith is all about us. What Jesus reminds his apostles is that faith is never about us – even faith of the smallest size is able to do the most amazing things. It is not the size of our faith that matters – but the greatness of the God that we believe in.

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Recorded at St Paul’s, 9.30am (6mins)

Sunday 27, Year C. 2 Tim 1:6-8,13-14. Luke 17:5-10

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