Monday, February 21, 2011

...only by prayer

There's a line in today's Gospel that I heard somewhat differently today. It's the story of the healing of the epileptic boy. In Mark's Gospel, Jesus has just come down from the Mount of the Transfiguration, when he is met by a distraught father and his own equally distraught disciples. The man had brought his son for healing, and while Jesus was on the mountain with Peter, James and John (not to mention Moses and Elijah), the rest of the 12 attempted to do what they had been able to do when sent on mission by Jesus: anoint the sick with oil and heal them. But the boy was in the same sad state as before.
Clearly, something was amiss. But what?
After Jesus healed the boy and "raised him," the disciples made some discreet inquiries as to the cause of their earlier failure. Jesus told them, "This kind [of demonic possession] can only be driven out by prayer."
I always assumed that Jesus was telling the disciples (and me), "Pray better." But today, my attention was more on the boy's father, and his prayer. Look at how Jesus worked with the man, urging him to make a daring act of faith to the point where he cried out, "I do believe! Help my unbelief!"
Could that be the prayer that brought about the miracle of healing?

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