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September 1979

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move hence to yonder place", and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matt. 17: 20-21)

How often in the course of your life have you felt the need for someone who could give you a hand and yet you have known that no person is able to solve your problems! Then without noticing it, you do turn to Someone, who knows how to make the impossible possible. This Someone has a name. He is Jesus!

Listen when he says to you:

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move hence to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Obviously, the expression, "to move mountains", is not to be taken literally! Jesus did not promise to his disciples the power to do spectacular miracles simply to amaze the crowds. In fact if you search through all the records of the Church you will not find one saint - so far as I know - who literally moved mountains by his faith. The expression "to move mountains" is a hyperbole, i.e. a rhetorical exaggeration, intended to instil into the minds of the disciples the fact that with faith nothing is impossible.

The purpose of every miracle that Jesus did, directly or through his followers, was always to further the kingdom of God or the Gospel or the salvation of mankind. Moving mountains would not serve this purpose. The image of the "grain of mustard seed" is used to show that what Jesus requires of you is not faith of any particular size, but an authentic faith. The characteristic of an authentic faith is that one is supported only by God and not by one's own strength.

If you are assailed by doubts or hesitations about your faith, then that means that your faith in God is not yet total. It means that you have a faith which is feeble and somewhat ineffective, which still depends upon human strength and human logic.

The one who trusts himself entirely to God leaves every action to Him and… with God nothing is impossible.

The faith that Jesus wants from his disciples is that totally trusting attitude which permits God to manifest His power. This faith which is able to remove mountains is not reserved for certain exceptional people. It is possible and it is a duty for all who believe.

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move hence to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

It is thought that Jesus said these words to his disciples when he was about to send them out on their mission.

When you know that you are a small, unprepared flock, with no particular talents, faced with a great crowd of people to whom you must carry the truth of the Gospel, then it is easy to be frightened and discouraged. When faced with people whose interests are quite other than the kingdom of God, then it is easy for one's spirit to fail.

It seems an impossible task.

Then it is that Jesus assures his own that by faith they will 'move mountains' of indifference and of apathy in the world. If they have faith nothing will be impossible for them.

Furthermore, this expression can be applied to all circumstances of life, to the extent that they serve the progress of the Gospel and the salvation of people.

At times, when we are confronted with insurmountable difficulties, we can be tempted not even to turn to God. Common sense says to us, 'Enough. It won't do any good.’

It is then that Jesus exhorts us not to be discouraged , but to turn to God with trust. In one way or another he will answer us.

That was what happened to Leila.

Some months had passed since she first confronted her new work in Belgium among the Flemish-speaking people, a work she began full of hope.

But now a sense of dismay and loneliness gripped her heart.

It seemed as though between her and the girls with whom she lived and worked there was an insurmountable barrier.

She felt isolated and estranged among those people whom she wanted only to serve with love.

All depended upon having to speak a language which was not her own nor that of those with whom she was associated. They had said to her that in Belgium everybody spoke French and that was what she had to learn; but the people with whom she came into direct contact only learnt French at school and usually had no desire to speak it. They were Flemish-speaking.

Many times she had tried to remove that mountain that cut her off from them, but in vain. What could she do for them?

Then she saw in front of her the face of her companion Godelieve, full of sadness. That evening she noticed that she had retired to her room early without touching her food.

Lella was tempted to follow her, but she stopped in front of her door, shy and hesitant. She wanted to knock on the door… but what words could she use to make the other understand? She remained there for some seconds, then went away.

The morning after she went to church and sat at the back with her face in her hands so that no one would notice her tears. That was the one place where she did not have to speak a strange language, nor did she need to explain herself, because there was someone there who understood beyond the words. It was the certainty of being understood that gave her boldness, and with beating heart she said to Jesus, "Why am I not able to share their cross with the other girls and say to them the words which you yourself made me understand when I found you: that every sorrow is love?" She waited in front of the tabernacle as though she were expecting an answer from Him who had brought light into every darkness of her life.

She lowered her eyes and they fell on the Gospel for the day, in which she read the text, "Be of good cheer. Have faith. I have overcome the world". Those words were like soothing oil on Lella's soul and she was fully at peace. When she went into breakfast she at once met Annj, the girl who was responsible for the affairs of the house. She greeted her and followed her into the kitchen, then without speaking she began to help her prepare breakfast.

The first to come down was Godelieve. She came in search of coffee, hurrying so as not to be seen by anyone. But there she suddenly stopped: the peace in Lella's soul touched her soul and spoke more clearly than any word.

That evening, on the way back to the house, Godelieve joined Lella with her bicycle and forced herself to speak in a way that Lella could understand. She whispered, ‘Your words are not necessary: today your life has spoken to me and said "You too should love!".'

The mountain has been moved.

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move hence to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Chiara Lubich


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