Daily Reflection
May 20th, 2002
Tom Shanahan, S.J.
University Relations and the Theology Department
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

James 3:13-18
Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 15
Mark 9:14-29

The passage in today’s liturgy comes from a very important part of Mark’s gospel, the part where there is a strong emphasis on what it means to be a disciple.  What, then, is here for us today as we struggle to live the faith into which we have been baptized?  What is for all of us — as we are continually called into discipleship?

Our gospel scene today fits between the Transfiguration of Jesus and one of three bold announcements by Jesus that his ministry to the people will soon end with his death (and subsequent resurrection).  In these three announcements the disciples totally misunderstand Jesus, and he takes these opportunities to teach them what it means to be his disciple — he calls them to simple, prayerful and humble service.

Today we see the disciples spread their wings, as it were, and try to heal young man who was possessed by a mute and deaf spirit.  They were unable to heal the boy and when Jesus comes into the scene, the boy’s father asks him to heal the young man.  The man’s faith (I do believe; help my unbelief) is the catalyst for Jesus’ cure of the boy’s frightful maladies.

Why couldn’t the disciples cure him?  When they are alone with Jesus, he tells them that the only way to cure a difficult case like this one is through prayer.

What’s the lesson for us here?  Exactly the same as for Jesus’ disciples: we are called to simple, humble, and prayerful service of others.  Our service may not be as dramatic as the gospel story’s cure of the possessed boy.  Probably it is much simpler, yet equally wonderful as we are called to pray for others who need healing.  Our faith tells us it is God’s work done through such prayerful and faith-filled service of others.

The two passages that leap off the page today is the father’s prayer (I believe; help my unbelief) and Jesus acknowledgment of the need for prayer in a difficult case like the boy’s possession.

Lord, give us all the courage to be your disciples through our faithful service of those in need — in your name.  Let us remember with humility that it is your will and desire to heal and our call to be a part of that healing (humbly, prayerfully).  Keep us faithful and true to the healing work that you accomplish through us.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook