When Jesus came to the place where they had left the disciples, they saw many people around and some teachers of the Law arguing with them. When the people saw Jesus, they were astonished and ran to greet him. He asked, «What are you arguing about with them?». A man answered him from the crowd, «Master, I brought my son to you for he has a dumb spirit. Whenever the spirit seizes him, it throws him down and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes stiff all over. I asked your disciples to drive the spirit out, but they could not».
Jesus replied, «You faithless people. How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to me». And they brought the boy to him. As soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it shook and convulsed the boy who fell on the ground and began rolling about, foaming at the mouth. Then Jesus asked the father, «How long has this been happening to him?». He replied, «From childhood. And it has often thrown him into the fire and into the water to destroy him. If you can do anything, have pity on us and help us». Jesus said to him, «Why do you say: ‘If you can?’ All things are possible for one who believes». Immediately the father of the boy cried out, «I do believe, but help the little faith I have».
Jesus saw that the crowd was increasing rapidly, so he ordered the evil spirit, «Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you: Leave the boy and never enter him again». The evil spirit shook and convulsed the boy and with a terrible shriek came out. The boy lay like a corpse and people said, «He is dead». But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him and the boy stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, «Why couldn't we drive out the spirit?». And he answered, «Only prayer can drive out this kind, nothing else».
Without entering into the details of this gospel, I would like to invite you all to place ourselves in the place of this sick child and this child is none other than ourselves, who are processed with different ideas and visions, without being associated to the will of the Father.
The first reading invites us to look into ourselves particularly and in the creation at large so that we may be able to discover how the divine wisdom which continues to animate the world. This divine wisdom, though made available to all, only some have the luxury of having them, because this is purely a divine gift.
To have access to this divine gift, we are called to approach the Lord with prayer. It is the only source of divine communion. Without prayer we can never get access to this divine wisdom. Now the question is, how to pray? It’s simply placing ourselves in the presence of the Lord, and by surrendering all that we have before the Lord, so that He may use them to accomplish the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Prayer is simply be with the Lord and listen to Him.
In this encounter, we should be ready to die to our way of thinking, or our way of being. This dying time, we may find our life as fully annihilated, but in the process, we will be resurrected into a totally different person, just like this child, who became totally a different one, and fully liberated from the old life.
Now the question is, are we ready to get closer to God and ready to allow ourselves to die our old way of life, and to be reborn in the Lord?
«I do believe, but help the little faith I have»
Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, we see —once again!— the Lord being approached by people («and they ran to greet him») and, at the same time, we witness his solicitude towards those who need him, always sensible to their needs. In the first place, wondering what is going on, He asks the crowd; then, He gets involved with in the problem.
A man from the crowd intervenes. He is the father of a boy that is seized by a dumb spirit: «Master, I brought my son to you for he has a dumb spirit. Whenever the spirit seizes him, it throws him down and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes stiff all over» (Mk 9:17-18).
It is terrible what the Devil can do!, a creature without charity. —O Lord, we must pray!: «And deliver us from evil». It is hard to understand those who, today, still claim there is no Devil, or even worse, those who render him some type of cult... Nonsense, is not it? We should learn a lesson: it is just too risky to play with fire!
«I asked your disciples to drive the spirit out, but they could not» (Mk 9:18). When Jesus heard these words, He became angry. Angry, mostly, for their lack of faith... Lacking faith because they had to pray more: «Only prayer can drive out this kind (of spirits), nothing else» (Mk 9:29).
Prayer is an “intimist” dialogue with God. John Paul II affirms that «prayer brings always some kind of secluded retreat with Christ in God. The Holy Spirit only acts in such “secluded retreat”». And only in such an intimate atmosphere of retirement can we practice a friendly assiduity with Jesus, which, in turn, increases our confidence in Him, or what is the same, increases our faith.
But this faith, that can move mountains and drives out the evil spirits («All things are possible for one who believes!») is, above all, a gift from God. Our prayer, in any case, prepare us to receive that gift. However, we have to beg for this gift: «I do believe, but help the little faith I have» (Mk 9:24). Christ's response will not take long!