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Suddenly this text spoke to me in a way that differed from the usual…

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“Suddenly this text spoke to me in a way that differed from the usual interpretation. Isn’t Jesus saying to us with these words: Why are you asking me for lots of faith? Maybe your faith is ‘far too big’? Only if it decreases, until it is as small as a mustard seed, will it give forth its fruit and display its strength.

“Tiny little faith need not necessarily be simply the fruit of sinful lack of faith. ‘Little faith’ can sometimes contain more life and truth than ‘great faith’. Can’t we apply to faith what Jesus said in the parable about the seed that must die in order to bring great benefit, because it would disappear and be of no use were it to remain unchanged? Does not faith also have to undergo a time of dying and radical diminution in the life of man and in the course of history?”

Faith, Halik suggests, might need to be little, to be unencumbered by that which is superfluous and which surrounds it like a shell, which seems solid, necessary and essential, but which is brittle, sharp and rigid, protecting our human endeavors and not our divine faith. He writes,

“The opposite of the ‘little faith’ I have in mind is actually ‘credulity’, the overcasual accumulation of ‘certainties’ and ideological constructions, until in the end one cannot see the ‘forest’ of faith –its depth and its mystery – for all the ‘trees’ of religion (19).

Halik seems to see, at least in the West, easy certainties about religion, ideology which has replaced a willingness to suffer for one’s faith, a replacement of mystery with easy answers. ‘Big faith’ offers no help against the paradoxes and complexities of life; it seeks safety in numbers and certainty from the past.

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