February 20th, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (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: This Gospel reading is about trust, faith and just how much you believe. These words from today’s Gospel are so powerful and mean so much to us if you are a true believer. “Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” We all are faithful and do believe but the part about unbelief is what we need to enhance. It is this unbelief that we possess that requires much prayer. It is this part that we try to repair each and every day when we see evil in our world; or violence such as the wars; or mass shootings such as the one in Monterey Park. Then we have the things that occur in our personal lives such as death, sickness, or drama which causes us to really question our faith. Think about a time when you weren’t sure about your faith because you were challenged with something.

Just this weekend our unbelief was challenged one more time with the loss of a great friend, comrade, and shepherd to the people. I am referring to the loss of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell. He was so full of life with his joy, his love, and his compassion to our brothers and sisters. It was just Friday that I saw him at a function. He got up and spoke about hospitality. He said that it is our duty and mission to be hospitable to everyone around us. I now realize that that was his mantra. He was available to the people, and he embraced everyone. 

I had written something completely different for today’s post, but the loss of Bishop Dave has just consumed me because I ask the question WHY? Why does a man like this go home to Our Lord when he is at the pinnacle of his ministry? Of course, we don’t have the answer other than he was accepted with open arms when he journeyed home to heaven. I just realized this Sunday afternoon that I (we) must embrace the lessons Bishop Dave taught us. We learned by his example of what he did and what he achieved. We live in this darkness with the loss of our dear brother but only in darkness can you see all those bright and beautiful stars. John Henry Cardinal Newman prayed, ‘the night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on.’

Jesus listens to the deep desires of those who come to him in their need. He recognizes faith and encourages it. I take time to express myself to Jesus and ask him to strengthen my unbelief. If we rely on our own strength, we will always fail. We must be a people who rely on God, place our unbelief in His hands and offer our dependence in our commitment to prayer.

Action of the Day: Lent is just two days away. What ACTION will you commit to? 

Audio Reflection:

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