The apostles prayed to Christ, “Increase our faith.” We want to share in that prayer. “Lord, increase our faith!”
Now, what precisely is this faith that we pray that the Lord will increase? Fundamentally, the Christian faith defies definition. It’s something mysterious, since it involves: our finite minds somehow touching, somehow knowing the infinite God. So that we can pray.
We express our faith in the… Creed. We believe in God Almighty, Creator of all, Lord and Giver of life. We believe that He made everything out of nothing. Certainly He can move mulberry trees to the sea.
Why does earth orbit the sun–the third planet out, in this particular little solar system–with Venus our neighbor inward, and Mars one planet out? Is it all because of physics and gravity? Well, yes…except then you have to ask: Why then is there a sun and an earth and a Venus and a Mars, and physics and gravity? Is it because of the Big Bang? Maybe. But if there was a Big Bang, then you have to ask: Why then was there a Big Bang? The certain answer that faith offers: Because God wills.
God wills that Mill Mountain stand where it stands. God wills that the Pacific Ocean extend precisely as far as the Pacific Ocean extends. Why is the sky blue–or gray, or whatever color it is, depending on the day? Because God wills. God is the Almighty One. He can move mulberry trees wherever He wills to move them.
May God increase this faith of ours.
But let’s ask ourselves this: Is our faith in the infinite, omnipotent God a comfort to us? Or is it terrifying?
Maybe it’s a comfort? God governs everything with His inexorable power. So we can let go of our delusions of grandeur. We can accept that, in the great sway of the divine government, we are very small. Like little hobbits occupying an obscure corner of the cosmos, living on earth for a brief moment in the grand scheme of years. Our little pilgrim lives will pass away as swiftly as they came. God is big. We are small. God can move mulberry trees at will; we are small enough to fit under a mulberry tree. So we can shed our Messiah complexes enjoy our dinners in peace.
But wait: This is a little terrifying, too… I mean: Do we matter? We believe in the awesome infinite God, Who has laid out the heavens and the stars. We ourselves huddle here like so many little hobbits on a little planet. Do we matter? Our smallness can just about overwhelm us.
Let’s go back to our original question. What is the faith that we pray the Lord will increase in us? The holy Catholic faith. Which believes in God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all things, the visible and the invisible. And our faith also believes in: Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
Do we matter? The infinite God, Who cracks mulberry trees in half at will– Brief digression: Anyone ever see Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles snap his bat in half, like a twig, after a strikeout? Wow. Anyway: God Almighty, Who turns mulberry trees into mulberry splinters when He wills–He did something immeasurably more amazing. He united our human nature with Himself. He became incarnate.
And we have to seek precision here. God did not ‘incarnate’ Himself in the form of some fleeting vision. He didn’t even just send an angel. The holy Incarnation has no ephemeral aspects. He took our human nature to Himself in such a way that He Personally became one of these little hobbits: semi-hairy creatures, who take up a tiny patch of territory on this little, remote planet, for a fleeting period of time, punctuated by daily dinners.
God is a man. From the first Annunciation Day forward, He always will be a man. And that is His most awesomely powerful act of all. He saves us sinners and gives us eternal life. He makes us His intimate friends, His kith and kin: the eternal Son’s brothers and sisters, the eternal Father’s beloved children. Which involves the kind of omnipotence that makes thunderstorms and hurricanes look like so many little splashings in a bird bath, by comparison.
After all, the universe really only appears to dwarf us human beings with its vastness. Yes: we get tired just walking from one end of a Walmart to another. But, in fact, one human soul extends to a greater vastness than the entire universe of stars and planets, supernovas and galaxies. We can conceive and envision and number the stars and planets and galaxies. The very huge universe in which we find ourselves so small is, in fact, something of which we conceive, as we gaze at the night sky, which means that our minds are bigger than it. Not in feet and inches. But in total spiritual comprehension.
God did not unite Himself Personally with a supernova, or even with the entire Milky Way galaxy. He united Himself with us little goofballs right here. To give us His eternal friendship. That is actually more awesome than anything. We pray that our faith in that unfathomable mystery, the mystery of the eternal Son of the eternal Father becoming man–we pray that our faith in that awesome mystery will always increase.