By Jim Orcutt, Co-Founder of My Brother's Keeper

These personal reflections on the Monday gospel represent my insight of Christ’s message as viewed through the lens of my life experience. It is my hope that others will be inspired to reflect upon their views as well.
Date: February 24, 2020
February 24, 2020

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.”

Reflection:

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.”

A man and his son are in need of help. The other disciples are arguing with the scribes, the interpreters of religious law, and therefore are unable to help the man’s son. The lesson for us is simple: When we see someone in need of help, it is not the time to debate. It is time to pray, “Lord, give me the wisdom and strength to help this person.”
Then take action.

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.

Jesus said, “Bring him to me.”
His first inclination was to act. He did not pay any attention to the scribes or others in the crowd who wanted to discuss the situation.

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.

At the sight of Jesus, the spirit did not relent. Instead, it intensified its efforts to harm the boy.

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.”

Distraught, the boy’s father pleaded with Jesus to help his son. How clearly I can relate to the father. There have been many times I also have pleaded with God to come to the rescue of my child or grandchild.

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!”

“………help my unbelief.”
I can remember my Spiritual Director, Father Richard Sullivan, C.S.C., encouraging me; “Jim, pray with an expectant faith. Pray as if you know beyond a doubt that God will answer your prayer.”

I try to pray with an “expectant faith” but in truth I am much like the boy’s father in today’s gospel. I often find myself praying, “I believe Lord, 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!”

Jesus showed no doubt. In complete confidence He commanded the spirit to “come out.” He knew the Father had given Him the power to expel evil. This is the faith that God desires from you and me.

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.

We have seen many people who appear to be dead in spirit from the use of alcohol and drugs, the ravages of poverty, or the loss of loved ones. But when they are “taken by the hand” by someone who believes in the power of Jesus to heal, they rise and stand again.

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.”

Before entering into the healing work of Christ, we should first pray to the Lord and ask Him to strengthen us for the task ahead. By ourselves we can do nothing but through Christ all things are possible.

“Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” William Cowper



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