A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (Mt 17: 14-20).
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.”
Good News Reflection:
Introductory Prayer:Lord, help me to pray well so that the devil will have no hold on my life. Through my prayer, let him be driven far from me and from my loved ones.
Petition:Dear Jesus, my faith is so weak. Help me to increase it in this meditation so that I can follow you faithfully in the little things that you ask from me, especially today.
The devil throws the boy into fire and into water, and the apostles cannot drive it out. Do not we also face temptations of fire: our emotions, passions and desires? Do not we face temptations of water: a lack of constancy and tendency to revert to a lukewarm spiritual life, both which serve to douse the flickering love we have for Jesus? Although we are not possessed, we face these temptations on a daily basis that we cannot seem to overcome no matter how hard we try. Like the apostles, we seem powerless to cast them out.
Jesus tells us that our problem is lack of faith. How? When I look at myself I seem to have faith. I pray. I go to Mass. I try to live what the Church teaches. What do I still lack? I really try to overcome my emotions. I try not to give in to my sinful desires. I want to have a deeper love for God and to escape from the spiritual apathy and lukewarm tendency that seems to hold me back. Are not these attitudes of faith?
Obviously there is faith there, but it is still “little faith.” Here is the problem: I am still counting on myself to drive these evils out of my life. I am not really depending on Jesus. I might invoke his name like the apostles did attempting to drive out a demon, but when I examine myself, am I not really trying to do it on my own? Some failings are easier and perhaps I can handle them on my own, but these sins of fire and water arise from the fallen nature of my own humanity. They are precisely where my human nature is weakest and most marked by sin. Only the saving power of Jesus is enough to remove them. More than invoking him, I need to let him take the lead and cooperate with him, no matter what he asks me to do.
Dialogue with Christ:Dear Jesus, so many times I try to overcome my sinfulness and I fail. So many times I try to accomplish spiritual things without your help. I know your grace is there, but I do not want to use it. I prefer doing things on my own. I want to be in sole control of my own life. Yet I know that only with you can I overcome sin in my life and become the person I want to be and that you hope I will be. Please help me never to forget you and all the help you have given me in the past so that I can live a life of holiness, a life totally pleasing to you.
Resolution:Where is my sinfulness the greatest? What is the worst sin I commit that I cannot get over? I will offer a special sacrifice today for the grace not to commit that sin today. When I succeed, I will not congratulate myself, but God who gives every grace to accomplish good with my life.
Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC