February 20, 2012
Monday of the Seventh
Week in Ordinary Time
Father Edward Hopkins, LC
Listen to podcast version here.
As Jesus came
down the mountain with Peter, James, and John and approaching
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
it out?” He said to them, "This kind can only
come out through prayer."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I
believe in your presence in my life, family and work.
I believe that you ask nothing of me that you
do not give me the strength to do. I trust
in the power of your grace and the care of
your love. I love you, Lord, and I wish to
love you with this prayer so that I may work
according to your will and in your love.
Petition: I believe you can
change me, Lord.
1. Working Without Faith: The artist Raphael depicts the poor
apostles who, awaiting Our Lord’s return from Mount Tabor and
the Transfiguration, are waving their arms in frustration and excusing
themselves before the desperate father and his family. How often
we try to do what clearly seems to be our
work, but without including God in any real way. Our
work seems “dead” until we let Jesus work with us
to “raise it up.” Often we fail even to ask
whether what we do is God’s will or not. When
we exclude God from our work or family life, we
lack faith. He is there—but we just don’t allow him
room to work. The apostles exercise little faith, thinking this
cure beyond their ability. The father and his family may
as well have lacked faith in what these “apostles” could
do. To them, and to us, Christ says, “O faithless
generation!” When do I show a lack of faith in
my work or family life?
2. Jesus’ Ultimate Intention: Instill Faith: When Jesus
is out of sight, the people could only argue. Yet
when he comes into view, the people are “utterly amazed.”
Jesus immediately sees their lack of faith, so he uses
every circumstance to inspire faith. What he did for the
chosen three apostles through the Transfiguration, he does now for
the nine at the foot of the mountain. He allows
them to fail so as to teach them faith. He
tests the poor father, too: “If you can!” And he
instructs all the apostles on the need for prayer. What
is Christ doing in my life to invite me to
greater faith? Do I respond with that faith or do
I simply argue, since Jesus does not appear present?
3. Our Struggle to
Believe: The father’s heartfelt cry is all Jesus needs to
drive out the unclean spirit. The man reaffirms his faith
while admitting his weakness. How often do we assume that
our faith is sufficient, all the while blaming God for
what happens in our life? Believing is not easy. It
requires a constant recognition of our limitations, our inability to
understand the “why’s” of so many occurrences, the “how’s” of
so many challenges. Jesus does not rebuke the struggle to
believe but rather the lack of effort when we stop
believing. What the apostles failed to do was done by
the father with one intense but short prayer: “Help my
unbelief!” This humble confession always comes to rest on the
greatness of God’s power and the comprehensiveness of his love.
Do I believe that everything is possible if I only
Christ: Lord, grant me an increase of faith! Help me
to see you present and active in my everyday life.
May I never undertake any work or responsibility without first
determining your will and counting on your assistance. I believe
that you can do all things in me, according to
your own will. I believe your will is committed to
what is best for me. Teach me to pray and
work with great faith and trust in you.
Resolution: I will reject
all worries that I can do nothing about, confidently acting
upon those concerns of mine which I can change.