No one plants trees in the sea ... Jesus is assuring us that our faith can do anything.
The Gospel for this Sunday is Luke 17:5-10
The parable of the mustard seed, the mulberry tree, and the servant is not a story about the past, but about what we all encounter in our daily lives. The story concerns the spiritual and the material. Contrary to appearances, there is no opposition here.
2 – Key words
If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.
The mustard seed was the smallest of all the grains known in Jesus’ time. It is smaller even than poppy seed. However, it has great power. This is what Jesus had said about it earlier: “The reign of God is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
The same is true of faith; even the smallest bit of faith has great power and can do the impossible, as Jesus demonstrates. He offers the example of a mulberry tree. Firstly, the mulberry tree has such an extensive root system that it is almost impossible to uproot it. Secondly, no one plants trees in the sea. So the point of Jesus’ words is that a person who has even the tiniest bit of faith can do things that are impossible from a human point of view.
Faith is not restricted to the liturgy. At the end of every Mass, there is a blessing and a sending out to live out faith in daily duties, as Jesus goes on to say in today’s verses of the Gospel by evoking the person of the servant.
We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.
The term “unprofitable,” Greek “achreioi,” is a reference to the word “chreios,” or debt. In this context, then, to be achreioi may mean: We have no debt as we have done what we were obliged to do. All we have and all we are is a gift from God. We only pay off the debt with our lives. Scripture adds: “God loves a cheerful giver.”
Jesus highlighted what St. Paul expressed in words later: “faith without works is dead.” No wonder, then, that when talking about faith Jesus offers the example of mustard seeds, used for improving blood circulation and rejuvenation. What does my faith urge me to do?