Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(James 3:13-18; Mark 9:14-29)
A glioblastoma is a malignant brain tumor for which there is no known cure. It is the cancer that caused the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. Victims of glioblastomas often feel so desperate that they will try anything. The man whose son is possessed in the gospel today is driven by such a sense of powerlessness when he comes to Jesus.
However, he first meets Jesus’ disciples. They have cast out devils on their apostolic journeys, but evidently they have limited power to do so. Jesus tells them at the end of the gospel that some cases require “prayer” by which he probably means the most intense of kinds like takes place between him and the Father. Jesus responds to man’s request for help even though the man admits a lack of belief. He casts out the devil to everyone’s edification.
What disturbs us about the passage is Jesus’ impatience over people’s lack of faith. We might ask if unbelief is not understandable after the attempted genocides of the last century. Perhaps it is, but maybe the same atrocities give even more reason to cling to Jesus. By his death he liberated his disciples from false hopes. His care has been forwarded to us so that we might assist others.