National Catholic Register

Sunday Guides

Small Acts of Simple Faith

User's Guide to Sunday, Oct. 6

BY Tom and April Hoopes

Oct. 6-19, 2013 Issue | Posted 10/6/13 at 7:02 AM


Sunday, Oct. 6, is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C).


Feast Days

Monday, Oct. 7, is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. On the anniversary of the miraculous defeat of the massive Turkish army at Lepanto, say the Rosary for peace and for your family.


Mass Readings

Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10


Our Take

Today’s Gospel passage is a bit of a “problem text.”

Most “problem texts” come down to cultural differences, like when Jesus tells Mary, “Woman, what is this to me?” at Cana. It sounds as if he is mad and a little disrespectful — until we learn that this was a common way to refer to women respectfully at the time.

Today’s passage is like that. “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’?” asks Jesus. “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’?”

We might be tempted to answer his question, “No. I would let the servant have something to eat right away.”

The explanation to this problem text is that his culture had a different understanding of servant and master’s roles than ours does. But you needn’t study Hebrew culture to see what Jesus is talking about.

On the day we wrote this guide, Tom finished an unusually busy day at the office. We he came home, he immediately had to prepare for confirmation class at the parish, while feeding the baby. After confirmation class, it was time to prepare for a college class the next day.

April finished a very busy day of home-schooling some students and chauffeuring others to the Benedictine high school in town. At the end of it, she too had to prepare for confirmation class, while preparing kids for soccer and taking them to practice. When that was all done, more home-schooling duties awaited her.

The truth is: We have all experienced what Jesus describes in today’s Gospel. After we do a lot of work, we find a lot more work follows. And no one gives medals to teachers who prepare for class or parents who take their kids to soccer or school — or certificates of appreciation for fixing sinks after long days at the office or accolades for paying the bills on time.

Jesus wants us to have that same attitude toward our faith.

When we do something right in the spiritual life, we have the tendency to want accolades for doing well.

But Jesus doesn’t give medals to us for saying our prayers or going to Mass or even for going the extra mile for someone else. That is all Gospel 101. It is the basic behavior expected of Christians, like doing the laundry and taking care of your kids in the course of daily family life.

But it is precisely in this daily, routine way that the first words of today’s Gospel are fulfilled: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,” you can move mulberry trees or mountains. In other words, miracles will happen.

If anyone tells you the age of miracles and wonders is over, tell them Padre Pio and other modern saints never got the memo. Great deeds are done through simple faith. But great deeds are also done by small acts of simple faith.

Just as working hard at work and working hard at home has a transformative effect over the years on yourself and your children, commitment to your faith that is complete and constant also transforms you over time. Little by little, it can move mountains.

Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,

where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.