If you have faith the size of a mustard seed . . . 

We all know what a lever is: a long stick or a rod used to pry or move something heavy. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks were the first to discover that by exerting only a small force at one end of a lever, they could move a large object at the other end. But in order to do this, the lever requires an immovable point to pivot upon—a fulcrum. The Greek philosopher Archimedes described using a fulcrum this way: “Had we a place to stand upon, we could even raise the earth.”

This image of a lever and fulcrum can help us understand what Jesus says about faith in today’s Gospel reading. He tells his disciples that a rather small force—“faith the size of a mustard seed”—is enough to move a mulberry tree. Mulberry trees have very deep roots and can grow to be as tall as seventy feet. That makes them awfully hard to uproot! But Jesus is saying that the “lever” of our faith doesn’t have to be large at all to move such a massive tree. It just has to rest on something firm. And that firm rock is Jesus!

It can be easy to read this passage and conclude that if only our faith were stronger, we would be able to do just about anything. All the “mulberry trees” in our lives would literally fly into the sea! But that’s missing the fact that our faith is only the lever. We need to be founded firmly on Jesus—on his wisdom, his will, and his plan for our lives. We can’t “believe” our way into something that God doesn’t want for us!

The key, as in all things, is to stay connected to the Lord. Then we can move all the things that need to be moved in our lives. Are you struggling with a sin pattern? You can move it as you stay rooted in Christ. Are you facing a new opportunity for evangelization or service but aren’t sure you can meet the challenge? With Jesus as your “fulcrum,” you can. His love and his grace and his power are far bigger than any mulberry tree in the world!

“Lord, teach me to surrender to your will, even as I trust in your mighty power!”

Wisdom 1:1-7
Psalm 139:1-10
Luke 17:1-6


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