Help My Unbelief

23 February 2009 Monday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time
Sirach 1, 1-10; Psalm 93; Mark 9, 14-29

The message of the Gospel is simple: Anything is possible for those who trust God (v. 23) and trust is deepened by prayer (v. 29). In the story, the disciples were unable to drive out the demons. They have done everything in their power to heal the possessed boy, but they failed. The boy’s father was frantic and desperate. If everything has been done, what and who could cure his son? Jesus tells the father to trust God and when He was able to heal the boy, Jesus adds, that this case can only be brought about by prayer.

The striking thing about this story is what the father cried out in his desperation: “I do believe, help me in my unbelief!” This is a faith moment or what scripture scholars called, a profession of faith. In reality, there are times when we are both a mixture of belief and unbelief. When we are in the situation of the father in the story, when the doctor’s prognosis is gloomy, or we are almost sure of a poor outcome, we often battle with the issue of resignation or to continually hope for a better turn of events. There is that part of us that continually hopes despite the helplessness of the situation.

However, we have proof that trust is worthwhile. We have heard of cancer survivors, or abuse victims who have succeeded in rising up from their tragedies. We have heard those who rose from the ashes of natural calamities. Somehow there is a part of us who wants to believe despite the doubts that populate our minds. The father then asks Jesus to help his unbelief. By the very fact that the father trusts and acknowledges that he too needs assistance is the start of a deep faith. Faith is dynamic. It grows. And thus, we must not be afraid of the doubts that often come to us. Questions move us to find answers. When faith questions are answered, the result is a faith that is well-informed. And when we have a well-informed faith coupled with a regular prayer life, our faith deepens.

The “demons” in our lives that possess our spirit are those that haunt us when we sleep. But they are defeated by prayer. To those tormented by the past, prayer allows us to believe that we can free ourselves from it. To those troubled by sins, prayer allows us to seek forgiveness from the Lord and to move us to confession. To those who are plagued by problems, prayer makes us seek out a solution or at least assure us that soon we will find a way to fix them. 

Prayer has its own power. It has changed people’s lives.

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