Monday in the 7th Week of the Church Year.
Saint for the day: St. John Theristus (1049-1129)
In today’s Holy Gospel the father of the boy possessed by a mute spirit asks Jesus, “… if you can do anything… to which Jesus comes back with, “if you can? Everything is possible to one who has faith.” And then the father of the boy cries out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
Now for a note of correction:
If you have a photographic memory you might remember that I have often attributed the saying “I do believe, help my unbelief!” to the Apostle, Thomas when he finally meets the resurrected Jesus (after missing him the first time that Jesus appeared to the disciples.) In Thomas’ encounter, his actual response is: “My Lord and my God! (John 20:29) – not “I do believe, help my unbelief!” which in found in today’s Holy Gospel.
So, given these two “statements of faith” we might ask, “what’s the difference?”
I think the answer might be found in the Apostle Thomas’ case. We remember that he wasn’t present the first time that Jesus appeared to the disciples in the locked upper room and when he heard that Jesus had appeared to the others he makes his first, stubborn declaration, “I won’t believe until I put my hands and my fingers into his wounds” (John 20:25).
On the other hand, the father in today’s Holy Gospel says, “If you can?” which still has a ray of hope rather than Thomas’ absolute, “I’ll never believe unless …” Jesus comes back – in an almost challenging tone, “If I can?”
Then the tables turn as Jesus says, “Everything is possible to one who has faith” That’s when the boy’s father cries out, ”I do believe, help my unbelief!”
What a marvelous thought for us to take from today’s Holy Gospel. Notice that Jesus doesn’t qualify the amount of faith necessary for a miracle which reminds us of His saying, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could move mountains!” (Matthew 17:20)
Sometimes we’re like the disciples and think that we have everything already worked out and we often need to be reminded – like we are in today’s Gospel -that we can’t afford to limit Jesus’ power to break through our tough skins. Sometimes it’s the people who are most in need – almost desperate – that show us what real faith is. We all need to be careful not to box Jesus out of our lives with our absolute convictions. Remember to let him in! Take a moment to go back and re-read today’s Responsorial Psalm which is filled with hopeful verses – the last of which is one of my favorites: “Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”(Psalm 19:15 “My Lord and my God! … I do believe; help my unbelief!” Amen!
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