And He Arose

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Monday of the Seventh Week of the Year I
Mark 9:14–29

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A Tormented Child

Today's Gospel recounts the deliverance of a boy tormented by an evil spirit from his infancy. "And oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But if Thou canst do anything, help us, having compassion on us" (Mk 9:21). The Evil One throws the boy into extremes; this is characteristic of the devil's work. Whereas the action of the Holy Spirit is marked by a sweet discretion, by gentleness, and by moderation, the action of the Evil One is marked by exaggerations, by excesses of all sorts, by imprudent starts and by bitter endings. These are the things that cast the soul into discouragement and sadness.

Faith

How does one restore order and balance to a soul that has lost both? "And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mk 9:22). Our Lord asks for one thing only: a little faith. Here, faith means trust. Faith is not an intellectual assent to a metaphysical construct; it is the word or action by which one entrusts oneself (or another) to God. "And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears — the perfect definition of the prayer of supplication: a crying out with tears — said: I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief" (Mk 9:23). The father responded to the word of Our Lord by asking Him to place within his soul the dispositions of faith necessary for his son's deliverance. Not only does he ask for his son's healing; he asks that his own faith be made whole.

Struggle and Death

A terrifying struggle and a kind of death follow. And crying out and greatly tearing him, he went out of him, and he became as dead, so that many said: He is dead" (Mk 9:25). Struggle and apparent death are part of the healing process.

And He Arose

The narrative culminates in a spiritual resurrection. "But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up; and he arose" (Mk 9:26). "And he arose" — how easy it is to pass over this little phrase that, in some way, is the key to all the rest. This is a true resurrection into newness of life. Henceforth, nothing will be the same in the young man's life, and nothing will be the same in the life of his father.

Prayer and Fasting

The disciples are puzzled by the Our Lord's boy's deliverance. They had attempted to deliver him and had failed. "And when He was come into the house, his disciples secretly asked Him: Why could we not cast him out? And He said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting" (Mk 9:28). Our Lord refers here to "The Soul of the Apostolate," to the hidden life, the source of all spiritual authority and fruitfulness.

In seeking the intercession of Saint Gabriel the Wonderworker during this novena, we, like the father in the Gospel are saying, "I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief" (Mk 9:23). To the prayer of supplication we do well to add some form of fasting — and there are many, many forms of fasting — taking care to practice moderation and discretion. Fasting, by engaging the body, becomes a physical investment in prayer. Fasting anchors prayer in the heart.

1 Comments

Thank you for the suggestion of fasting - and for this novena. How blessed we all are to have you guiding us in prayer.
Nadine

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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