“Pulling on ‘both the oars’ of faith and works, so that the ferry ‘of our lives’ may move across the river!”
(Based on Hab 1:12–2:4 and Mt 17:14-20 – Saturday of the 18th Week of Ordinary Time)
Two men were once seriously disputing the relative importance of faith and works…
… when they came to a ferry (boat) over a river.
As they started across they asked the ferryman his opinion on the subject.
Was faith alone enough in life?
… or was also works of faith important for a good Christian life?
… the boatman, who was a strong believer in God, pointed to his two oars.
“One,” he said, “I will call faith, the other, works.
If I pull only on this one oar – the right oar – I get nowhere, but go round in a circle.
Just so if I pull only on the left oar.
But when I pull on both oars, then the ferry moves across the river.”
That was indeed a very sensible explanation, describing the relationship of faith and works.
The Gospel of the day is the incident of how the disciples fail to heal the boy and how Jesus intervenes to cure and teaches the importance of possessing strong faith.
These two incidents show contrasting dimensions…
On one side, immense glory being revealed and the Divine splendour being manifested
On the other, lack of faith being exposed and the failure in the Kingdom ministry
On one side, the three disciples basking in the light of heightened faith and devotion
On the other, the other disciples being lost in the darkness of inability to put the faith to effectiveness
And how often is this the experience of our own lives too…
There are some moments when we experience the loftiness of God’s glory and power
There are other moments when we fail miserably to evoke His presence and are unable to feel His
There are some times when faith makes us to feel that everything is so glorious and wonderful
There are other times when our faith hits rock-bottom and our spiritual life loses its sheen and all seems so miserable
This is the reality of our lives – contrasting experiences of glorious faith at some instants and miserable lack of trust at other
But the Gospel of the day ends with an encouraging exhortation by Jesus to have a strong and sturdy faith – the faith the size of a mustard seed
“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. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt 17:20)
When the disciples were unable to bring about a healing to the epileptic boy, the Lord sure did rebuke them for their “lack of faith”.
But after having healed the child, He does not linger with the reproaching or admonishing attitude…
…. instead as a loving friend and a caring master, gently but firmly encourages them to be stronger in their faith.
This is the approach that He has towards us too…
He knows that we have our weak moments and situations of disbelief and doubts
He knows that there are periods when our faith is merely on the lips and not really from the depths of our hearts
He knows that there are times when annoying circumstances encroach our faith-life and all our efforts in devotion meet with bitter conclusions
Yet, with firmness and fondness, Jesus invites us to keep seeking to grow in our trust in Him and have faith of the size of the mustard seed.
Let us pull on “both the oars” of faith and works…
… so that the ferry ‘of our lives’ may move across the river!
Today – August 08 – we celebrate the Feast of St Dominic, the Founder of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).
St Dominic boldly followed this Call of the Gospel and lived an austere life in much humility and love of God….and who promoted the Devotion to the Holy Rosary.
He challenges us to “Arm ourselves with prayer rather than a sword; to wear humility rather than fine clothes”
On this First Saturday of the Month, as we renew our love for the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother, let us also empower ourselves, like St Dominic, with the armour of the Rosary.
Let us dwell, with Our Blessed Mamma, who perfectly lived the life of being a True Disciple of Jesus – and live with “faith and works” through the waters of life!
God Bless! Live Jesus!