HELP MY UNBELIEF
May 20, 2013
Today’s gospel: Mark 9:14-29
Do we doubt Jesus who said that those who believe in him will do even greater works than he did, or that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains? Do we not realize that if we do works in faith, it is God working in and through us as His instruments? Do we question the awesome power of God, for whom nothing is impossible? Instead of stepping forth boldly as we have already been commissioned and equipped, do we keep hesitating and asking Jesus, “if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mk 9:22b)?
We can hear Jesus sighing and saying with indignation, “If you can!” (Mk 9:23a). “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you?” (Mk 9:19a). Then he reiterates his constant teaching, “Everything is possible to one who has faith.” (Mk 9:23b).
Perhaps we can be pardoned for doubting every now and then. Indeed, we fail often enough. We call on the name of Jesus but do not see happen what we ask. We go forth into battle only to return bruised and battered. We are supposed to be one united force but we see many divisive elements among our ranks. We see the forces of darkness continue to overwhelm the world. On the other hand, we know that Jesus is risen, that he already conquered the enemy, that he will return as victorious King. We have experienced his grace, strength and power. We have overcome many obstacles. So we believe. But even as we believe, we know that such faith needs to deepen, that that mustard seed needs to grow into a large tree. Thus then is our constant prayer, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24b).
Now notice. The disciples asked Jesus in private why they could not drive the mute spirit out (Mk 9:28). Jesus answered, “This kind can only come out through prayer.” (Mk 9:29). Now the disciples were just doing what Jesus had taught them and told them to do, to drive out demons. But this time “they were unable to do so.” (Mk 9:18c). Perhaps they were going on their own steam. Perhaps they were relying on their past successes. Perhaps their past successes had gone to their heads. They tried to do the works of Jesus, but were no longer consciously reliant on God’s power.
Jesus then brings them back to basics. To do the works of Jesus requires prayer, that is, a constant communication and intimate relationship with him. To pray is to meet and to know Christ. To pray is a necessity if we are to live Christ. Now to share Christ and to do the work of evangelization, including confronting the enemy, requires prayer as well. If we live in Christ and Christ lives in us, then we can ask for anything in Jesus’ name and it will be granted. We will experience the faith that really works wonders.
So let us confidently act in Jesus’ name, as we live his life in us. Jesus relies on us to continue his work of assaulting the dominion of the enemy in the world. We can no longer throw the problem to him and wait to hear him say, “Bring him to me.” (Mk 9:19b). It is now our work. When he returns, Jesus will only have what we have worked to secure for him.
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)