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I Do Belief, Help My Unbelief

In today’s Gospel (February 20, 2017) we hear the story of Jesus driving out another evil spirit.  He has does this before but this time there is a difference.

Before coming to Jesus directly, the boy’s father had asked Jesus to drive out the evil spirit but they were unable to do.  Why?  Jesus replies, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”  I’ve always struggled with this as it sounds like his disciples weren’t praying.  How else can any human expect to drive out an evil spirit except through prayer to ask God to drive out the evil spirit?

I looked at the footnotes in the New American Bible Revised Edition and found that it said that Jesus’ reference to prayer signifies a lack of trust or total reliance on God.  Perhaps the disciples were relying on their own actions rather than God’s help.

What I really want to get to here is what is what is said in Mark 9:22-24:

But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.”Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!

The man says “if you can.”  Of course Jesus can do this.  The man goes on to say “I do believe, help my unbelief.”  We have faith in God but our faith is not always perfect.

I remember back to shortly after I came back to Church.  I read a Catholic news story that said the Vatican had just issued a new 400 page manual on exorcisms.  I was surprised but my surprise was not the length of the manual.  I was surprised to hear the Church still did exorcisms.  Wasn’t that just something in horror movies?  The story said it only happened in rare circumstances so I said okay but figured I won’t ever see one.

Then fast forward to when I was in seminary.  I was getting ready for bed and turned the TV on for a few minutes.  I ended up on a documentary about a family facing an evil possession in their house.  I was questioning but I kept watching.  Then I started getting scared.  I thought I should just turn the TV off and go to sleep.  I couldn’t.  I couldn’t change the channel either.  Freaked out, I just keep watching.  At the end of the documentary they brought a priest in who did an exorcism and it worked!  With that, I turned the TV off and fell asleep, completely at ease in faith that God had taken care of it.

As a priest, I’ve had a couple of occasions where people describe “odd things” happening in their house.  I explain I am not an exorcist and simply bless their home and it offers them peace and trust in God they need.

To this day, I am not quite sure what I believe about possession and evil spirits.What I do belief is that God can take care of it.  You have faith in God, where does your faith fall short?  What unbelief do you need God to help you with?


Fr. Jeff

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