Reflection on the Daily Readings for 2/23/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Seventh Mon. Feb.23, 2009. Sirach 1:1-10. Psalm 93:1.1-2.5.
Mark 9:14-29. Lectionary # 341.
Today’s meditation is a lesson in faith in Jesus and the need for
prayer when it comes to getting rid of evil personified (the Devil). The
story is given just after Jesus descends with Peter, James, and John the
chosen three for particular important events in their journey with Jesus.
At the foot of the mountain some scribes of the law are in lively
discussion with the people and probably with Jesus’ other nine
disciples–those who were not with him on the mountain of the
transfiguration. We may surmise that the discussion was over the power of
exorcism and that Jesus’ disciples were not able to accomplish an exorcisim
on a son of one father in the crowd. The story is told in Mark’s fast
moving and colorful way. Only through our meditating upon it and slowing
down the action can we get to the message of faith and prayer. It is there
but the scenes in Mark are quick.
The young man who is possessed by the demon is manifesting signs that
are similar to an epileptic seizure but Mark confirms that this is truly a
case of possession. Mark is our reliable narrator who is omniscient in
what he describes so vividly in his snappy down to earth Koine or Common
Greek. Could Jesus really help the man who is requesting that Jesus do
something about his son? His disciples could not and thus a number of
lively discussions were being had before Jesus came down the mountain.
We learn about faith and trust from the man who speaks out of the
crowd that has gathered probably waiting for Jesus to come. He says to
Jesus, “I do believe! Help my lack of trust.” It is the man’s prayer and
Jesus does have the power to heal. After doing so , the young man looks as
though he is a corpse. Then Jesus lifts him up and restores him to his
father. He is entirely wholesome and has his wits. The demon is gone.
Jesus had incriminated the scribes, the people, and the disciples for the
lack of faith; only the man seemed to have had faith in the authority of
Jesus and his power to cast out demons. The language used helps the reader
and Mark’s community to understand this healing as a symbol of the
resurrection of the body. The story ends with the disciples asking why
they could not exorcize the demon. Jesus tells them that for this type of
possession prayer is needed. Some manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel add fasting
to the prayer. “This kind is cast out by prayer and fasting.”
We are thus being prepared for the big three practices of Lent with
the advance of Mardi Gras and then Ash Wednesday on its heels: Prayer,
Fasting, and Generous Giving of ourselves, our possessions, and our time.