Jesus, in today’s Gospel from Mark 9:14-29, was asked by the father of a boy that was possessed by a mute spirit that had often thrown him into fire and water to kill him, to help his son. The father says to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” That’s when Jesus replies, “If you can!” I have always pictured Jesus probably the way I would react to a problem that I definitively knew I could solve with a kind of superior attitude with a little head-shaking. I seemingly often lose sight of how much Jesus loves me, loves you and loved that father and son and would react in his love and mercy unlike myself.
Thinking about the father’s question, I am reminded that when I approach Jesus with my prayers and requests, I too often think just like that father and wonder if Jesus can or will help me with my request. I have grown to pray with the attitude that your will be done Lord and not mine. This is good. But as Jesus conversed with this father, he asked him questions and the father responded. I think Jesus would like to hear more from me about what I want, why I want and then accept his grace to listen and trust him. I know Jesus already knows what I want before I ask but he also wants to hear it from me in my personal relationship with him.
The complete response from Jesus was “If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” He did heal the boy. A large crowd had gathered and it was very dramatic. What I did not mention was that his disciples were not able to heal the boy and later they asked Jesus why they could not drive the spirit out. Jesus told them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
I think the Gospel today is imploring me to pray with a greater faith, but maybe foremost, to pray for greater faith. Jesus, I do believe just as the father of the boy you healed said to you in today’s Gospel, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus, I trust in you. Have mercy on me, on us and on the whole world. Amen.