7th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Sir 1:1-10
All wisdom comes from the Lord and with him it remains forever, and is before all time the sand of the seashore, the drops of rain, the days of eternity: who can number these? Heaven’s height, earth’s breadth, the depths of the abyss: who can explore these? Before all things else wisdom was created; and prudent understanding, from eternity. The word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom and her ways are everlasting. To whom has wisdom’s root been revealed? Who knows her subtleties? To whom has the discipline of wisdom been revealed? And who has understood the multiplicity of her ways? There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring, seated upon his throne: There is but one, Most High all-powerful creator-king and truly awe-inspiring one, seated upon his throne and he is the God of dominion. It is the Lord; he created her through the Holy Spirit, has seen her and taken note of her. He has poured her forth upon all his works, upon every living thing according to his bounty; he has lavished her upon his friends.
Gospel: Mk 9:14-29
As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John and approached the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Immediately on seeing him, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.” He said to them in reply, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.” They brought the boy to him. And when he saw him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions. As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around and foam at the mouth. Then he questioned his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He replied, “Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!” Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, “Why could we not drive the spirit out?” He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
JESUS, THE GOOD NEWS! DO YOU BELIEVE? St. Bonaventure, a friend and contemporary of the angelic doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas once asked the latter: “Where do you get all your knowledge and wisdom?” St. Thomas pointed to the Crucifix and answered him: “This is where I get all my knowledge and wisdom from”. Nine disciples of Jesus failed to cast out a demon from a young boy, and confusion ensued among them with father of the boy. Jesus came and calmed the trouble by healing the boy. The disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast out the demon, He replied: “This kind of spirit you can only drive out by prayer.” Matthew adds, “prayer and fasting.” (17:21). From this experience we learn that failure is not bad in itself, rather it is part of success. We also learn the importance of prayer and fasting. To be able to do what Jesus did, we must be like Him: in prayers, in fasting, in humility, in loving, and in his simplicity in the use of things.
PRAYER: Lord help me to know you and be close to you in my prayers. Amen.
“I do believe, help my unbelief!”: Jesus had already given power to the disciples to heal the sick and cast out devils and they had succeeded carrying out this ministry (cf. Lk 10:). But in the present case most of them together fail to heal the sick/possessed boy. This provides opportunity to the scribes to argue with the disciples (v 14), disappoints the father of the boy (vv18b, 22b) and surprises the disciples (v 28). Faith is a constant factor in all the miracles of Jesus. The statement of Jesus that everything is possible to one who has faith and the response of the father of the child, “I do believe, help my unbelief” are the fulcrum here. Do we acknowledge our faith and its limitations and try to grow in live by faith?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to grow in faith
WITH A LIVELY FAITH, A LIVING FAITH: There is just one power to count on, Jesus. After the floods one man returned to count his losses. Roads had been washed away, trees uprooted, and roofs blown off; his place had been reducing to a ghost town. In all these though, his house was fairly unscathed. The man quickly consoled himself, “God has planted, watered and nurtured, and has not orphaned me in trying times”. When confronted with a terrific situation, emotional outbursts commonly happen; why this to me? What have I done to deserve all these? In such moments, we are reminded to turn to God with a trustful silence; silence is God; silence is Godliness. Even amidst unbelief and poor faith, count on Him. In all situations, trust that after all is calm, and embers are deeply buried in the cold ash, Jesus reassures us, “Everything is possible to one who has faith”. May we count on that Lord who envelopes our life in the most trying times.
FIDELITY THROUGH PRAYER: Jesus sees the crowd’s faithlessness as an expression of the power of evil embedded in the culture. Confronted with it, Jesus reacted with deep emotion. The faithlessness in question was an issue not simply of lack of faith in the person of Jesus but more specifically in his message. The father’s bringing the boy to Jesus expressed some embryonic faith in the person and power of Jesus. The man’s own lack of strong faith was shown in his tentative request to Jesus. He hoped, and yet at the same time he seemed to doubt Jesus’ capacity to confront and to overcome the evil. In the mind of Jesus, the demon of faithlessness, the inability to hear, was significantly more entrenched than the demon of illness. Jesus made clear that the only solution would be through the disciples’ own deeper conversion. It was the disciples’ own demons of despair, futility and distraction, that blocked their capacity to share Jesus’ vision of hope and to hear his message of real life through integrity.