When I served in our Archdiocese mission parish in San Felix, Venezuela, I encountered many difficult situations. The only solution to those difficult situations was to stir up the gift of faith in God‟s truth and love through prayer. Prayer does two things: it serves God‟s glory by entrusting ourselves to his powerful goodness, and it increases our faith in God.
Night comes quickly in Venezuela because it is near the equator. By 6:30 p.m. in June it is completely dark. During that month I was driving on a narrow street in one of the twelve neighborhoods that we serve. I encountered a blockade of tree branches and old tires strewn across the road as a sign of protest against the government.
I tried to turn the truck around but instead slid into a deep ditch and was stuck. The men in the community tried to free me, but they were unsuccessful. Another missionary came with his truck and some rope, but after many failed attempts we decided to call a tow truck.
As we waited for the tow truck, one of the Youth Group members mentioned that we had not prayed to God for help. She was right, we had to change our approach. About five of us gathered in a circle and prayed that the truck would be freed. After that prayer I said to the men, “Let‟s give it one more try.”
Finally, with one more push and uncanny ease the truck was free and on the road. Youth Group members thanked God, laughed and clapped their hands, “Praise the Lord!”
Our heavenly Father is so good at serving those who pray together for the same cause that glorifies his Name. We learned that we cannot overcome difficulties on our own power, but we can overcome difficulties by serving God through prayer, especially together, and praise and thank God for his glory in the way he serves us.
In today‟s Gospel the Apostles want to have their faith increased. Jesus told them that if they had the faith the size of a mustard seed that they could do amazing things.
Here‟s the key, they need to pray together in the Holy Spirit to glorify God and to be served by his power and his will to bring solutions to our problems. Jesus said, “If you would say to this mulberry tree, „be uprooted and planted in the sea,‟ it would obey you.” Unfortunately, it is not that obvious in the English translation because “You” can be singular or plural, but in the Spanish translation it is clear that Jesus is saying “You” in the plural, to all the Apostles who want their faith to increase together.
Since we share in Jesus‟ ministry with today‟s apostles, our Pope and Bishops, we as a community in Jesus Christ can pray in the power and love of the Holy Spirit for some marvelous things to happen.
We need to believe Jesus when he said, “Where two or three are gathered in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.” We gather in Jesus‟ name when we are truly striving to do all that he has commanded us to do, since he is our Lord and the giver of life and salvation. When we prayed together to free our stuck truck, Jesus heard our collective prayer be-cause we had hearts that sought to follow his holy commandments, and he sent an angel to successfully help us out.
On a more serious note, our Archdiocese mission was located in a place that had terrible violence. We had 60,000 people in our two-priest parish, and about 1 million around us
because of the large hydroelectric dams and mining operations. Unfortunately, we averaged 1 homicide a week. It is hard to imagine, and even harder to minister to that kind of suffering.
Most of the victims were men, 16 to 45 years of age, who had only been baptized Catholic. After about two years we began to participate in prayer marches with signs that condemned murder, abortion and violence, and sought God‟s blessing of deepening conversion for all. Some of the signs had the faces of loved ones who had been murdered. It was amazing to see the outpouring of people taking a stand against the evil. Many people began going to Confession, praying the Rosary and assisting at Mass with zeal.
When I visited our Archdiocese parishes about 4 times a year, I would talk about this sad fact of the violence, but how the people of God responded with courageous faith. I would beg people to get into their faith and pray for the material and spiritual poor, especially in our Archdiocese mission. By the time I left the mission after 3.5 years, homicides in our parish dropped to 1 every other month. Still tragic, but a huge difference. Now, we need to remain vigilant and pray together for our own country, to prevent the mayhem of godlessness to overcome our communities.
One way you can participate in standing up to the evil is by celebrating the love and mercy of Jesus Christ in Holy Confession and Holy Communion. Check out the extra Masses on First Fridays and First Saturdays of the month. There is also a Pro-life Rosary Rally on Saturday, October 15, Noon, in Zumbrota near Ford and Kwik Trip.
In our mission here and abroad, we learn that we are completed dependent upon God, and how to prayerfully approach him with humble hearts. It rings true then when we hear Je-sus say in today‟s Gospel: “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, „We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.‟” Lk. 17:10.
Around your supper table, how do you glorify God and what do you pray for? Is it for more faith, more hope, more loving service and understanding? How do you thank God for his care and solutions to difficulties? Do we pray for the material and spiritual poor?
In the Name of Jesus, we gather around the altar of sacrifice, the table of God‟s family of faith in our churches, to glorify God by asking Jesus to increase our faith that we might trust in his love and true solutions. Let us ask that we, and our family and friends, become more detached from the world and have a deepening conversion to Jesus‟ real presence in the Holy Eucharist, and resolve to receive him and his solu-tions worthily. Amen.