Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Sirach 1:1-10; Mark 9:14-29)
The story is told of President Abraham Lincoln taking a walk in the woods one night weighing a difficult decision. A group of Union soldiers were to be executed for falling asleep on duty unless he gave them a pardon. Along the path Lincoln met an adolescent on the ground crying. The lad had run away from home after his father in a rage killed his dog. The father had learnt that his other son was to be executed for cowardice and couldn’t control his anger. Lincoln counseled the boy to go home and forgive his father; meanwhile, he said, he would do some forgiving himself. The President also gave the boy his card with a note saying that he might visit him at the White House anytime. The boy went home and made up with his father. When he found out that his brother’s crime was falling asleep on duty, he went straight to the White House and took a seat outside President Lincoln’s office. At the end of the day, the boy gave the President’s secretary the card he had received and told him he had an important matter to discuss with Mr. Lincoln. The boy was shown in, told Lincoln what happened to his brother, and heard the President promise to add his brother’s name to the list of those soldiers who would be receiving Presidential pardons.
Just like the boy sitting in the shadow of the President, the man in the gospel whose son has an epileptic spirit does not recognize Jesus for whom he is. He sees Jesus as a human healer, not the son of God whose prayer to his heavenly Father is invariably answered. When Jesus questions the man’s faith, he responds with the cry that has echoed in every Christian’s heart, “’I do believe, help my unbelief.’” Jesus demands no more than that painful request and, indeed, does help the man to believe in him by driving the demon from his son. We likewise should bring to Jesus all our needs. He will help us if we can honestly say with the epileptic’s father, “I do believe, help…”