Readings for Monday February 21, 2011
First Reading: Sirach 1:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 93
Gospel: Mark 9:14-29
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.” (Mk 9:20-29)
Whenever I read this passage, I cannot help but wonder why the disciples could not drive out the demon. Jesus tells them that this kind can only come out through prayer. In some of the other gospels Jesus tells His disciples that this kind of demon can only come out through prayer and fasting. Which begs us to ask the question, why were the disciples not praying? I cannot help but wonder if the disciples were relying on themselves too much. When they started driving out demons, they perhaps were praying and relying on the power given to them by Christ, but perhaps as they went on in their ministry the reliance and focus on spiritual strength may have shifted from Christ to themselves. Christ lets them know that if they want to be able to cast out demons such as this, it is going to take prayer, which typically involves an acknowledgement and reliance on God.
This is a tendency that we all have, many of us rely on our own strength, rather than God's strength. We must always believe that God is the source of our strength and wisdom; and it is Him alone that can help us persevere through any challenge or obstacle that we may encounter.
Let us make our prayer the prayer of the father's from today's gospel, "I do believe, help my unbelief!" We must always remember that with God, all things are possible.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help our unbelief, and help us to persevere in this life. You are the source of all strength and wisdom, and while it may be foolishness to the world, may we always follow you and your ways. Help us to reach heaven, and to spend eternity in paradise basking in your love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.