Podcast Reflections

Reflection on Mark 9.14-29 (Ordinary Time before Lent)

Listen to a reflection for 20 February on Mark 9.14-29 (DEL Week 7: Monday)

Mark 9.14-29

When Jesus, with Peter and James and John, came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, ‘What are you arguing about with them?’ Someone from the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.’ He answered them, ‘You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able! – All things can be done for the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You spirit that keep this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!’ After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’ 


The father of the child cried out: I believe; help my unbelief!

In our everyday lives we are bombarded with accounts of how the life of faith is irrelevant. Humanists and other secularists try to convince us that to believe in Christ is to base our lives on a ‘fairy tale’, a story that has a moral, but remains a work of fiction. Statisticians and others would like to think that they have the killer argument in such matters … no one in their right mind could possibly believe in a loving God who allows terrible things to happen in his own created world. As we prepare to enter the season of Lent we would do well to pause and reflect on such matters lest they overwhelm us and undermine our relationship with God.

In today’s reading we hear of a boy, possessed by an evil spirit, who is brought before Jesus for healing. The disciples have already tried to exorcise the demon, but without success. In desperation the father of the possessed boy presents the problem to Jesus himself. Knowing that the disciples have failed to work this act of healing and wholeness, Jesus speaks of faith: All things can be done for the one who believes.

No matter what confronts us we are all called to have faith; we are all called to stand firm in that faith; we are all called to take Christ’s message of healing and wholeness into the world. But, too often, we feel like the disciples who could not exorcise the possessed boy. We pray fervently and sincerely, but still nasty things go on around us. Unless we are strong in our faith, it is at these moments that doubt begins to creep in … we begin to see the ‘wisdom’ of those who have no faith at all.

The life of Jesus shows us that even the Son of God could not stop terrible things happening. But, the life of Jesus also shows us the reward that awaits those who are firm in their faith. In today’s reading the father of the possessed son knew that he believed in Jesus’ power to heal, but he also recognized that that faith was constantly being assailed by evil forces. Today we are called to pray for a renewed strength and vigour in our lives of faith. We are called to pray that we might trust completely in God’s love for us as we wade through the changes and chances of this world.