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Sirach 1:1-10
Psalm 93:1, 1-2, 5
Mark 9:14-29

To help us relate with today's readings, especially the Gospel passage about the exorcism of a boy, we might do well to ask ourselves a very honest question.  Why are we so often victims of anxiety, fear, and doubt?  Like the father of the mute boy, why do we so often ask the way he asked, "If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."  Or like the disciples, Why are we unable to do this or that?   Wouldn't Jesus have to address to us the same plaintive rhetorical question he addressed  to them: "O faithless generation, how long will I endure you?"

Fortunately, Jesus gives us the answer, and it is precisely why we are reflecting on Scripture once again today.  "Only through prayer," can our faith grow strong enough to be able to deal with all the demons we come in contact with every day, demons that bind us, throw us to the ground, keep us from real life,  and prevent our full discipleship.  I want to suggest that the best way for each of us to pray over this passage is to examine everything in our lives that is holding us back, getting in the way, making us feel defeated, and reducing us to spiritual muteness and blindness.  Then allow Jesus to take us by the hand, raise us up, and send us off on our journey of faith.

The beautiful poetry of the first reading can help us realize how wonderful is the gift of faith, since it allows us to participate in God's wisdom, made incarnate in Jesus Christ, and poured out upon us so lavishly through the presence, power, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.  All of this is given to us when we fall on our knees before the "One, Most High all-powerful creator-king, truly awe-inspiring,"  and say those saving words, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner" (or the words of the boy's father in today's Gospel, "I do believe, help my unbelief.") Then the marvelously apt opening prayer is fulfilled in us:

"Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in your unbounded mercy you have revealed the beauty of your power through your constant forgiveness of our sins.  May the power of this love be in our hearts to bring your pardon and your kingdom to all we meet.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen."

By Bert Thelen

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