It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards one’s progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken. ~St. Francis Xavier
Gospel Text: (Mk 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.”
How many times have we found ourselves in the position of this father?
Things in life aren't going our way. We may suffer the loss of a job; face financial uncertainty or unexpected illness. Perhaps a friend or family member has died unexpectedly or under difficult circumstances. We may be tempted to doubt that God is paying attention to us.
In those moments, let us echo the prayer of the Gospel: "Lord, I believe. Even though my faith is only the size of a mustard seed, I do believe. Help my faith to grow. Help me to trust in you!"
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "by faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God" (CCC, no. 143). The intellect and the will, together with the passions, are the principle parts of the soul. For our faith to grow, our minds must be opened to the truth that faith communicates. The study of the Word of God, the Catechism, and sound spiritual writings can contribute mightily to our grasp of the faith.
In addition, we must shape our wills - our power to make decisions - to echo the will of God. This involves the practice of virtue, that is, the cultivation of good spiritual and moral habits fostered by the frequent reception of the sacraments (Eucharist and Reconciliation). Always remember, a good confession will clear the slate, and then fortify us with the grace of God for the battles ahead.
The Virgin Mary is the perfect example of faith. She never doubted God's word to her. With Mary at our side, may we grow in faith and clear the way for the Lord to act in our lives.
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