Mark 9: 14-29
Sir 1:1-10 / Psa 93
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Should evil keep my soul in chains,
Where else to turn to for relief?
In You alone my hope remains,
Lord, help me with my unbelief.
When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the scribes arguing with them. As soon as the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him. “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” Jesus replied, “You unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” He answered, “From childhood. It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus replied, “What do you mean, ‘If you can’? Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” He said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:14-29)
The apostles had been successful in exorcizing evil spirits before, when Jesus sent them out in pairs to preach repentance and heal the sick (Mk.6:7). So why couldn’t they drive out the dumb demon this time? It was simply because the father of the possessed boy did not believe that they had the power to do it. The apostles had been empowered to cast out evil spirits before, so in their self-assurance, they probably forgot to pray to God to give them that power again. True faith is the humility of recognizing our lack of it, and believing that only God can increase its fervor in our heart. It is only when we turn to God in prayer, and acknowledge to Him our weakness that the healing power of His Holy Spirit comes to bear.
Jesus shows us once again that having faith is more important than being healed. And possessing a gift from the Holy Spirit (like healing) does not necessarily mean that we have a strong faith either. In all instances, we must turn to God in prayer, whether to ask for somebody’s healing or to be exorcised of an evil influence. When a brother in our community sent a text message asking for help to secure blood platelets for their son who was stricken with dengue fever, I prayed for the Lord’s help, and sent out requests for prayers to many other members of our community. I was afraid that the Red Cross blood center might be out of stock of platelets as often happens whenever incidents of dengue fever are on the rise. The batting average of answered prayers by a community of believers praying as one is high. Our prayers were immediately answered, as the father of the boy stricken with dengue fever was able to secure the needed three units of platelets that morning. We praised and thanked the Lord!
Father God, you know our hearts, though we are always besieged by the spirit of doubt; please cure us of our unbelief, so that our faith may grow, and we may become closer to You. Amen.