Monday, February 21, 2011

I do believe, help my unbelief

"Prayer gives us strength for great ideals, for keeping up our faith, charity, purity, generosity; prayer gives us strength to rise up from indifference and guilt, if we have had the misfortune to give in to temptation and weakness. Prayer gives us light by which to see and to judge from God's perspective and from eternity. That is why you must not give up on praying!" (Pope John Paul II)

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.”

In today’s readings, I encounter a majestic God and self-imposed limits. I can truly connect with these readings. I can imagine myself in role of the disciples who fail in their interaction with the possessed boy. They lack the fervor that will only come later with the Holy Spirit. I can imagine myself in the role of the father believing that Jesus can do something for his son, but living with a faith that has been challenged by his experience of the world. I know the feeling of connection I have with our Lord, but I also know the trials of desolation.

The disciples had been asked to deal with a possessed boy. They had seen God’s power in Jesus. They had grown in the confidence of their own connection with the Divine. They took a risk. They tried to imitate their Master. They were unsuccessful and their personal weaknesses were brought to their attention. I can imagine the life of the father of the boy in the Gospel. He has seen his son suffer for years and questioned why. I feel a real connection with today’s readings. I am grateful for a God that does not give up on us. I am a person who gets things wrong on a regular basis. I have my moments of quiet desolation. I look at the world I live in and see people working hard, but being unable to hold on to the jobs they deserve because of corporate economics. This leaves me challenged and frustrated.

In my profession it is the norm to call things into question. I work in a field where the idea of divine revelation is unwelcome. I have something down deep that keeps me coming back. “I do believe, help my unbelief”

My prayer today is first in thanksgiving for the moments of revelation.
I pray in gratitude for a God who welcomes us back showing Himself anew.
I also pray for strength when my spirit is challenged by experience.

All things are possible for one who believes!

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