St. Augustine of Hippo


Episcopal Church

 


“Increase our Faith!


October 6, 2019


The Reverend Nathanael Saint-Pierre


I am sure, like the disciples of Jesus’ time, we all have our fears and moments of doubt and moments of questioning. We all have had a parent in a coma or a total loss of consciousness. We all have lost something important. We all have tried and failed, and some of us have prayed like those disciples.

In the tumult of what was going on in their nation and in their lives, the disciples asked Jesus, in a cry for help: “Increase our faith!”

But is faith size relevant?

Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady of the United states wrote this: “I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.” Maybe you have been lucky enough (I won’t say blessed) to have not been in fear. Maybe you have never doubted. Where I was born and in a context of dictatorship, I was constantly and consistently in fear. We were afraid of our parents disappearing (being arrested and summarily executed, that is, gunned down). We were afraid of being kidnapped and never seeing our parents again. We were afraid of reaching home and finding nothing to eat. We were afraid of getting to school and for the headmaster to send us back home for non-payment. Young women, as well as men, were afraid of being raped by those in power who were permitted to do anything and everything without any worry. As we were getting older and getting involved in militancy and activism, we became afraid of being arrested ourselves and executed. But fear, we knew, wouldn't change the situation. As small as we were, even the size of a mustard seed, we needed to stand against these oppressive forces, and we did. We risked it all, but the dictatorship had to leave. Things have not changed in Haiti after the struggle of democracy in 1986. Actually, they’ve even become worse. But the fight still goes on. Faithfulness is not the conviction that things will change for the better. It is the perseverance in pursuing it. Faith is to never accept defeat as an end. It is to keep on fighting, with the conviction that even for one day, victory will be on our side.

The disciples thought that their faith needed to be increased. They were living with an understanding that size matters. They saw that important people had big-sized fortunes. They were big, so they wanted to be big as well. Jesus taught them, and is teaching us today, that our size doesn’t matter. As small as we are, we can change ourselves and maybe the world around us. Sisters and brothers, it is not an illusion to stand against oppressive systems. That is the right thing to do. Wherever we see abuse, whenever a big one is oppressing a small one, we must stand and fight against it. We cannot let the invisible be invisible pretending that we have not seen it. Jesus is inviting us to open our eyes to see injustice, impunity, abuses and to raise our voices against it. 

When we think that our faith needs to be as big as the challenges that we face, we are wrong. Our God is already bigger than the challenges evil is throwing at us. He planted a little seed of faith in us that he can nourish to become the force that will change our fearfulness into fearlessness.

In the beginning of the week I was discouraged. I was in panic because one of my beloveds was missing in action. I went to visit Robert twice this week; the first time, his granddaughter, Joy, was with him and I found her crying; tears that could not be stopped. I could not find the words to comfort her or to console her. Two days later, I went back to visit Robert and our own William was watching over him. We started talking about Robert. About his children and what he represents for the family. Then, William could not retain his tears. Because of our love for each other, I was able to get closer to him and told him: “Big guy, let’s leave it all up to God.” I told him I’d like to pray silently (when I am that emotional, my mother tongue is what I can speak because my brain freezes). I silently prayed and told him I was leaving before I had an outburst of tears myself.

Tuesday, I avoided a visit. Instead, I went to the Bronx to work on a friend’s truck. That’s my way to escape from pain and cope with possible loss. But while up there, my phone rang. I saw the name of R&V Exum on my caller ID. I was afraid to take the call. In the two seconds it took for me to answer, all kinds of dark thoughts came into my mind. I was not ready for bad news. But as my job requested it, I could not ignore the call. Vernestine was calling to remind me of my promise to go and visit Robert Tuesday. So, I renewed my promise and said that I would go later. I delayed that visit as much as I could. It’s one thing to visit someone we don’t know, we don’t like, someone we visit, and we see getting better. It is another thing to visit someone we like because he is always supportive, someone we appreciate because he is so respectful, someone who is a model we look forward to becoming.

When I entered the hospital room, it was complete amazement. The Amazing Grace of God revealed itself right under my sight. I saw Robert restored. He knew who I was. He was talking and making sense. At the end, he even prayed with us, without missing one word of the Lord’s Prayer.

Praise! Yes, Praise be to God, for he is an awesome God! Praise, yes, Praise be to God because he does wonders. When doctors are clueless, Yahweh knows really. When the world is speculating, our God knows with certainty.

  1. O God increase my faith so that I can see your daily miracles (big and small)!

  2. Increase my faith so that I can surrender to you when I lose control!

  3. Increase my faith so that when I fall, I know that you will pick me up!

  4. Increase my faith so that I persistently know to stand with the assurance that you’ll never let me down!

  5. Increase my faith so that can understand you are with me in my imperfection!

  6. Increase my faith and teach me that “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1).

  7. Increase my faith that nothing is impossible to you O God! Nothing!

  8. Increase my faith and the faith of your church Lord so that fear does not keep us from providing hope in hopeless situations.


Faith, as well as love, is made of small leaps, not because we know where we land, but because God will never let us make a leap to nowhere. Now let us go into the world and carry a message of hope to the marginalized. Let us proclaim that the time of trial is over. Let’s have a glimpse of what we have accomplished in the past and believe that the same God who stood by us then, is still there alongside us to bring us to victory. Increase our faith! Lord, Increase our Faith!