Meditation: What kind of faith does the Lord Jesus expect of us, especially when we meet challenges and difficulties? Inevitably there will be times when each of us cause disappointment to others. In this Gospel incident the disciples of Jesus brought disappointment to a pleading father because they failed to heal his epileptic son. Jesus' response seemed stern; but it was really tempered with love and compassion. We see at once both Jesus' dismay with the disciples' lack of faith and his concern to meet the need of this troubled boy and his anguished father. Jesus recognized the weakness of the father's faith and at the same time challenged him to pray boldly with expectant faith: "All things are possible to him who believes!"
Prayer and faith go together
Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), in his commentary on this passage, reminds us that prayer and faith go together: "Where faith fails, prayer perishes. For who prays for that in which he does not believe? ..So then in order that we may pray, let us believe, and let us pray that this same faith by which we pray may not falter." The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit that we may have the confidence and boldness we need to ask our heavenly Father for his help and grace. Do you trust in God's love and care for you and pray with expectant faith that he will give you what you need?
When Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, the boy at first seemed to get worse rather than better as he went into a fit of convulsion. Peter Chrysologus (400-450 AD), a renowned preacher and bishop of Ravena, reflects on this incident:
"Though it was the boy who fell on the ground, it was the devil in him who was in anguish. The possessed boy was merely convulsed, while the usurping spirit was being convicted by the awesome judge. The captive was detained, but the captor was punished. Through the wrenching of the human body, the punishment of the devil was made manifest."God promises each one of us freedom from oppression, especially from the oppression of sin and the evil one who tries to rob us of faith, hope, and peace with God. The Lord Jesus invites us, as he did this boy's father, to pray with expectant faith. Do you trust in God's unfailing love and mercy?
Faith and trust in God's unfailing love and mercy
The mighty works and signs which Jesus did demonstrate that the kingdom of God is present in him. These signs attest that the Father has sent him as the promised Messiah. They invite belief in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. The coming of God's kingdom means defeat of Satan's kingdom. Jesus' exorcisms anticipate his great victory over "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31). While Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and may cause grave injuries of a spiritual nature, and indirectly even of a physical nature, his power is nonetheless limited and permitted by divine providence (Romans 8:28). Jesus offers freedom from bondage to sin and Satan. There is no affliction he cannot deliver us from. Do you make full use of the protection and help he offers to those who seek him with faith and trust in his mercy?
"Lord Jesus, help my unbelief! Increase my faith and trust in your saving power. Give me confidence and perseverance, especially in prayer. And help me to bring your healing love and truth to those I meet".
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/