The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.
‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, “Come and have your meal immediately”? Would he not be more likely to say, “Get my supper laid; make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink yourself afterwards”? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”’
The Master of the servant can sound a little cold, even unkindly.
It is probably important to note that, as placed in Luke’s Gospel, the parable is a response to the disciples’ request that the Lord should increase their faith. His reply implies you have what you need: use it!
Sunday is the 27th Sunday of the year, and that year is fast approaching its close. Listening to its Gospel reading might prompt us to ask: what this year have I received from the Lord for the better living of my life and the better serving/loving of my neighbour? And how am I using those gifts?
We are not merely servants – the Lord calls us friends. But he longs for us to live more fully of his friendship.
‘By my works I will show you my faith’ Poster for the Year of Mercy in Nantes Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris