Reflection on Mark 9.14-29

The father of the child cried out: I believe; help my unbelief!

In our everyday lives we are bombarded with accounts of how the life of faith is irrelevant. Humanists and other secularists try to convince us that to believe in Christ is to base our lives on a ‘fairy tale’, a story that has a moral, but remains a work of fiction. Statisticians and others would like to think that they have the killer argument in such matters … no one in their right mind could possibly believe in a loving God who allows terrible things to happen in his own created world. As we prepare to enter the season of Lent we would do well to pause and reflect on such matters lest they overwhelm us and undermine our relationship with God.

In today’s reading we hear of a boy, possessed by an evil spirit, who is brought before Jesus for healing. The disciples have already tried to exorcise the demon, but without success. In desperation the father of the possessed boy presents the problem to Jesus himself. Knowing that the disciples have failed to work this act of healing and wholeness, Jesus speaks of faith: All things can be done for the one who believes.

No matter what confronts us we are all called to have faith; we are all called to stand firm in that faith; we are all called to take Christ’s message of healing and wholeness into the world. But, too often, we feel like the disciples who could not exorcise the possessed boy. We pray fervently and sincerely, but still nasty things go on around us. Unless we are strong in our faith, it is at these moments that doubt begins to creep in … we begin to see the ‘wisdom’ of those who have no faith at all.

The life of Jesus shows us that even the Son of God could not stop terrible things happening. But, the life of Jesus also shows us the reward that awaits those who are firm in their faith. In today’s reading the father of the possessed son knew that he believed in Jesus’ power to heal, but he also recognised that that faith was constantly being assailed by evil forces. Today we are called to pray for a renewed strength and vigour in our lives of faith. We are called to pray that we might trust completely in God’s love for us as we wade through the changes and chances of this world.