USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said,
“Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely;
often he falls into fire, and often into water.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Jesus said in reply,
“O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?
Bring the boy here to me.”
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him,
and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”
“When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus and knelt before him…” (From Saturday’s Gospel reading)
Reflection for Saturday: He sent us to heal
By Graciela Ramos, Director of Online Ministry
This Saturday’s Gospel reading begins like this: “… when they came to the crowd …” Where was Jesus coming from? Where had he been?
It is important to remember that Jesus, Peter, James and John had just come down from Mount Tabor where the Transfiguration of Jesus had occurred, and they heard the Father’s voice saying: “This is my beloved son, listen to him.” The three apostles, after such a strong experience, were probably shaken as they headed down the mount.
Something similar happens to us when we go to a retreat and “taste” God’s presence. We feel like we’re “walking on the clouds”. Everything around us seems changed. We perceive the peace that only Jesus can give, and we ourselves feel transformed. Of course, after finishing the retreat, we do not feel like leaving; we would like to stay there for the rest of our lives. As Peter said: “Let us make three tents …” (Mark 9:5).
But that is not what God has planned for his followers. There will be time to spend eternity with him. Now we are urged by other priorities.
Note that as soon as they arrive where the people were, they bring to Jesus a young man who suffered frequent attacks that threatened to kill him. Some translations say that he was an “epileptic”, others a “lunatic” and others a “demoniac”. The important thing is that a simple man, a family man, anguished and suffering for his sick son, was not ashamed to kneel before a man (at that time Jesus was thought to be only a prophet, a teacher) and pray for the health of his little child. Such was his despair.
So the taste of Mount Tabor can wait. The three tents to enjoy staying in can wait, because these little ones are desperately waiting for us.
Of course we need a mountaintop experience like the Tabor; we do need to remain for a while in the “tents” because, if it were not for that “face to face” encounter with Jesus, we would not have the strength to face what is awaiting us in the plains, among the crowds.
The followers of Christ are called to “expel” the demons who try to kill those who have not yet discovered Jesus. We are called to heal so many people who are attacked, from different places, by always the same enemy, the one who only wants to steal, kill and destroy.
But, as happened to the disciples of Jesus, sometimes our strength fails. Sometimes we feel that there is very little we can do, and then we lower our arms and say: “It’s all lost.”
“No!” Jesus shouts at us. He has put all of his riches and resources at our disposal to bring an end to the devastation the enemy wants to make. There is only one requirement that the Lord asks of us: to have faith.
Of course we all received the gift of faith in our Baptisms, the so-called “Theological Faith”. But there is another faith, so to say, the one that “moves mountains”.
St. Paul says in the 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 9: “Another receives the gift of faith, in which the Spirit acts.” This is the faith we must ask for. This is the faith that, “though as small as a mustard seed”, has the power to achieve that which is beyond human forces.
Do you think you are worthy of this faith? Of course you are! You, me and all of us who call ourselves followers of Christ must ask for it! Only with this faith, alive and active in us, will we be able to expel these demons that are killing our children, young people and aged ones.
But, just as Peter, James and John needed a “Tabor-like-experience”, so do we. It is in intimacy with Jesus and his Love, Mercy and Forgiveness.
I invite you to grow in your Intimacy with Jesus using this WordByte as a Virtual Retreat designed for your own needs. Only by getting closer to the Master can we grow in that Faith that he asks of us.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica