The Power of Prayer and Compassion

Mark 9: 14-29
Jas 3: 13-18 / Ps 19: 8-10,15

‘You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you?’
(Mark 9:19)

Why do I seek
Only to believe
The Giver when I receive the gift?
My faith is weak
In this life I live,
Lord forgive me for 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 all the people saw Jesus, they were utterly amazed and ran to greet Him. “What are you arguing with them about?” He asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who 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.” He said to them in reply, “O faithless 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, “’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)

Reflection

Jesus was getting impatient with the slow development of His apostles’ faith. Coming down from the mountain where He was apprised of His nearing crucifixion, Jesus was aware that He didn’t have much time left with His apostles. It was obvious to Him that His apostles were not able to exorcise the evil spirit from the boy because they were more concerned with their power to heal and exorcise (to ‘show’ those skeptical scribes) than to ask the Father in prayer and to show compassion to the father and his distressed son. Thus He showed His compassion by first asking the father about the history of his son’s evil entrapment. He was also able to draw out what little faith the father possessed.

Time and time again, Jesus shows us that having faith is more important than being healed. And having gifts of 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. As St. James wrote in the first reading today, our “good deeds must be done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (Jas 3:13)

When our friend Dondon decided it was high time to stop his heavy smoking habit, he did not rely on his own will power or to any technique of medical science. Instead, he turned to God for help, and surrendered his addiction to Him in humble prayer. He shared later on that he could not believe how cutting off his smoking habit had seemed almost effortless, without any withdrawal effects. It was at that time when he saw that only God can help us overcome all our addictions. And then his greater spiritual healing followed, and he is now a renewed Christian, active in serving the Lord in his community.

Father God, we are always besieged by doubt; please cure us of our unbelief. Amen.

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