Quantity or Quality

Prevailing scientific thought holds that when time began the entire mass of the universe was compressed into a point smaller than a single atom, that is to say time and the universe were created in a singular event, commonly called the Big Bang. Difficult as it may be to understand, let alone to comprehend, the entire universe, its physical laws, and even time itself were created out of nothing and no time.

Parable of the Mustard Seed

Parable of the Mustard Seed

All matter came into existence from a microscopic seed so carefully designed and perfectly created as to contain all the essential qualities necessary to produce the universe and ultimately all of humanity. This thought alone should give us pause to consider the measure of faith and to understand what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that “the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.”[1] Early Christianity began with a small band of disciples and grew within a very short span of time into a global kingdom.

Twice Jesus reminds his disciples that it is not the size of their faith that matters but its quality. After Jesus drives out a demon from a boy when they had failed they “approached Jesus in private and said, ‘Why could we not drive it out?’ He said to them ‘Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’[2] Another time the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith and Jesus replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”[3]

All too often we read these passages and entirely miss the point. We hear that, like the line in an old commercial, “a little dab will do ya” and convince ourselves that just a little faith is all we need to move mountains. When nothing happens we conclude that faith is a waste of time and effort and turn away from God. When our focus is on the size of our faith we are thinking only about ourselves and the impossibility of moving the mountain that looms before us. It is not the quantity of faith that is important but the quality of it.

Each of us has been given the gift of faith by God and he has given to us all the faith that is required to please him and do what he desires. Faith cannot be earned because God gives it to us freely. We read that “faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen[4] but consider hope as something we desire to happen rather than something we know will happen. When we trust in God completely, when we have faith of the highest quality, then we know that it is God who moves that mountain, not us.


[1] Mt 13:31-32.
[2] Mt 17:19-20.
[3] Lk 17:6.
[4] Heb 11:1.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.