Sunday, April 6, 2008

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!

There are three types of mountains in the world. The first is the mountain that is simple to climb. We decide to climb and having put on our hiking boots, we overcome the challenge of the climb and with relative ease we find ourselves at the top. The second type of mountain can only be climbed after thorough preparation and planning. A team is necessary for success. Mountains like these are the types of climbs we hear about in the Himalayas. The third type of mountain is the one we always look at and never even try to climb. This mountain, no matter how skilled we are and no matter how many people are willing to help us, will never be overcome by us.

Life’s challenges are the same way. There are those small everyday challenges we routinely overcome and those we can overcome only after systematic preparation and the commitment of other individuals assisting us. The challenge we never attempt to overcome is the burden that day after day, week after week, continues to weigh us down in our spiritual struggle.

Such struggles are a reality in life as we read in today’s Gospel lesson. (Mark 9.17-31 see below) A father brought his son to Christ for healing after having failed all other options in helping his son get better. Even the Disciples were unable to heal the son. When Christ encountered the father, he responded by challenging the father’s level of commitment, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes,” and the father responded, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 19,23-24)

It is clear by today’s reading that the challenges in life can be overcome with the belief and aide of Christ. Now that we have completed four weeks of the Great Fast and our bodies have become weakened by fasting and added ascesis, let us remember that our belief in Christ will make it possible to overcome the challenges of the remainder of the Fast and whatever life has in store for us.

And remember......those challenges we choose to not ever try to overcome are the ones that become burdens in our lives.

Gospel Reading: Mark 9:17-31 NKJ

17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, "Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit.
18 "And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not."
19 He answered him and said, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me."
20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.
21 So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood.
22 "And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
23 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!"
26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead."
27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?"
29 So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting."
30 Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it.
31 For He taught His disciples and said to them, "The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day."

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