Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Someone from the crowd came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so…But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” …Jesus said to him, “’If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief.”
There are two types of people in this world: those who say, “I do believe, help my unbelief,” and those who say “I don’t believe, help my belief.”
I do believe. Help my unbelief. I find this statement refreshingly honest. Here we have a father whose son has been ill for far too long and with a sickness that would easily challenge the faith of any parent. But this father hasn’t given up. On the contrary, he sought the help of Christ’s disciples; and although they were unable to help him, he continued to seek God’s help. This man never gave up! In fact, when He approaches the Lord, he doesn’t bombard Him with a billion questions as to why He is so bad! Instead, he throws himself at the mercy of the Lord: “Have compassion on us and help us.”
I don’t know about you, but I wonder: Does this man have a little faith or a lot of faith? And if he claims to lack faith, then how would my faith compare to his? Well, I guess it is best not to compare. But there is a lot to learn here.
Who can help? A few days ago, a high-powered executive woman told me about a family that’s been struggling with a very sick child and tons of medical bills. The man in the house has been unemployed for a while now and doesn’t know what to do. He asked this woman, a dear friend, if she could help. “Can you help me?” he asked. “Yes, of course!” she said, even though she didn’t have a clue where to begin. So she began to pray. That’s a great way to begin anything that is impossible.
Everything is possible to one who has faith. Later that day, as she watched her son play in a soccer tournament, she spotted a man she barely knew. His child played soccer as well. With her promise weighing heavily down on her, she wondered if this man could help her friend. She said a prayer. She wondered. She said another prayer. She hesitated. She barely knew him. But for some strange reason she was convinced that he was the one to ask. She struck up a conversation. After a few minutes, she came right out and told him what was going on with her friend: his son, his bills. The man reached into his back pocket and gave her an envelope. She thanked him. In the car, she opened it up and there were four thousand dollars. FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS! Who carries four thousand dollars?
I don’t believe, help my belief. As I mentioned before, there are some people in this world who will shut the door on belief; and not only shut it, but seal it, lock it and cement it in. They argue that bad things prove that God does not exist. Hardly! And if it “proved” anything it wouldn’t be that God did not exist but that He was not good. C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), a Cambridge professor and convert from atheism, wrote many wonderful books that disentangle all sorts of knotty issues regarding belief in God and in the Christian faith. In his book “The Problem of Pain”, Lewis argues that Christians created “the problem of pain” by insisting that God is good. In a New York Times book review, they wrote, “C.S. Lewis is the ideal persuader for the half-convinced, for the good man who would like to be a Christian but finds his intellect getting in the way.”
I agree, except for the part about the intellect getting in the way. It’s not our intellect; it’s our experiences and pride. It’s the shutting of our doors: the closing of our eyes, the plugging of our ears and the cementing of our hearts and minds.