Today’s Gospel: Luke 19:41-44
Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus’ words just after a man in the crowd has called out to him, “Teacher, I beg you, look at my son; he is my only child. For a spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams and it convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it releases him only with difficulty, wearing him out. I begged your disciples to cast it out but they could not.”
His response was, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you and endure you? Bring your son here.”
Was he talking about the man? His son? The disciples? All of them? Probably. He was probably talking about us today as well.
Think of Jesus’ frustration at the man’s words, “I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” This chapter begins with Jesus’s sending forth of the disciples, when he gives them power and authority over demons.
They were given this power and authority, yet were unable to cast the demon from the man’s son. Why? Because their faith was not yet fully formed. They still were not quite “getting it.”
This scene occurs the morning after the Transfiguration. You will remember that the disciples, Peter in particular, grossly misunderstood the point of what they had seen.
Just after the exchange in today’s reading comes the scene where the disciples begin to debate who among them was to take the greatest place in heaven. Jesus has to remind them that the least among them will be the greatest.
It’s sobering to think that the disciples had inadequate faith. If they didn’t really understand Christ’s mission, where does that leave us?
We can easily rattle of what we believe as listed in the Creed. Is that the same as faith? The disciples clearly believed in Jesus, yet their faith was not adequate to carry out their mission.
Is our faith adequate to carry out our mission? Is it even adequate to discern what it is we are called to do? Speaking for myself, no. As I look back on my life, it’s a bit easier to recognize times that I have been called upon to act and did not. It’s easier to acknowledge the many times I have responded to challenges with worry and doubt rather than faith.
Putting this reading in the larger context of the Gospels and Acts, it is at least gratifying know that through the entire narrative, Jesus never stopped giving his disciples new opportunities to believe and act upon their growing faith.
So it is with us. I look back and see those times when I knew my faith was inadequate. It may still be, but I know that my faith has grown over time. I look back on the times that I know I did not live up to what I was being called to do. But I know that I continue to be called upon and challenged. No matter how short of the mark I fall, Jesus does not give up.
Jesus is sometimes likened to a shepherd, other times to a fisherman. In what ways do those comparisons describe his persistence in calling to us.
Jesus, I pray that I will stand apart from my faithless generation, ready always to hear your voice and answer your call.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Kirk Whitney