Scripture: Lectionay 341. Sirach 1:1-10. Psalm 93:1.1-2.5. Mark 9:14-29:
We begin a new ordinary liturgical time today as the readings rapidly change from the great festival and solemnity of Pentecost. We start with a magnificent deuterocanonical Wisdom book called Ben Sira or Sirach. An elderly and venerable priest said in introducing this book: Read the passages slowly. When finished go outside and take a good look at nature. There you will find its interpretation. The Wisdom of the Bible is extremely practical and often very sharp and funny. Sirach, however, is special in that it was used by the Dead Sea Scroll community who had copies of it in Hebrew and Greek. It is not part of the 24 books of the Hebrew Scriptures. Ben Sira or Sirach. His name is Simeon in the Hebrew text and Jesus (Joshua) in the Greek text of the Septuagint. The book contains many proverbs, liturgical texts, moral instructions for the young and maturing, maxims, and counsels and encourages us to seek wisdom or Sophia, the word for Wisdom in Greek. Observing the wisdom of the Torah is the highest form for it entails doing God’s will and being obedient to the precepts and commandments of God. The Greek version was made by the grandson of Simeon ben Sira. We will enjoy some liturgical passages for the coming ordinary days in the liturgical calendar and do well by relating it to nature and all of God’s creation.
This year we jump into Mark in the liturgical seventh week of ordinary time in order to regulate the movement toward Advent the beginning of the liturgical year. Our passage describes an exorcism of Jesus who restores a young man to his father. Both the crowd and the disciples seem to be arguing over the condition of the boy or young man; only Jesus is able to heal him and cast out the demon. The scene is vividly described by Mark who brings out the strong character of Jesus as he not only confronts the demon but also chides all who surround him for their lack of faith and trust in the power of God. Fortunately, the father of the boy does have some faith and Jesus helps him to grow in it. He, the father, cries out, “I do believe! Help my lack of trust!”
Jesus asks a lot of questions in the Gospel of Mark that are not found in the other Gospels. We may wish to meditate on them and let them penetrate our own souls to learn from the scene. How do I respond to Jesus’ questions and some of his stern statements? What can I take from this powerful healing? Do I have some addictions that seem to be a little demonic? Can I cry out as the father of the boy does and ask Jesus to help me grow in trust? Why does Jesus tell me and those surrounding him that this type of demon can only be cast out by prayer? Why does this event happen shortly after the Transfiguration of Jesus? The Scripture commentator, Paul J.Achtemeier writes, “That final reference to prayer tells us that the only appropriate response to Jesus is total, trusting reliance on God’s power, which is the attitude of prayer as well as of faith. Yet the story also assures us that however imperfect our faith may be, Jesus is nevertheless able to overcome the evil forces at work within our lives.” Amen. P.S. Welcome to Ordinary Time!
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.