Early in the morning, as Jesus and his disciples were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered from the root up. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look how the fig tree you cursed has dried up.”
Jesus responded to them, “Have faith in God! I assure you that whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea’—and doesn’t waver but believes that what is said will really happen—it will happen. Therefore I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you will receive it, and it will be so for you. And whenever you stand up to pray, if you have something against anyone, forgive so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your wrongdoings.”[d]
[d] Mark 11:26 is omitted in most critical editions of the Greek New Testament And if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your wrongdoings.
Mark 11:20-26, Common English Bible (c) 2011
This is one of those teachings of Jesus – one that is misused every time it is quoted to imply that someone – you, me, the grieving parent, the bereft spouse, the lonely or the sick or the underemployed or the __(fill in the blank)__ – does not have enough faith. In the face of pain and suffering and overwhelming obstacles in ordinary human lives I refuse to think that someone’s faith is not good enough or that it is not sufficient; measuring another’s faith is never in my job description.
I do believe in prayer and encourage regular, honest communication with God – conversations where we ask, we listen, and we are somehow changed.
“Believe” is not a head thing. It is a heart thing and it has everything to do with faith in action. When a creed begins “I believe …” it means “I give my heart and life to …” or “I give myself, body and soul to ….”. So when we pray and believe we’re offering our lives as part of the answer.
If we are talking about mountain-sized issues of justice – from immigration to racism to truly welcoming our LGBTQ siblings in Christ to addressing climate change – we must do do more than pray. We must also act. And, to borrow Jesus’ words: not waver.
-Teressa Clark, 2019
Lenten Reflections 2019: Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 5