The (hidden) healing prayer


It’s the first day after Pentecost, and that is said to put one into a frame of mind. It is to jar ones memory into thinking of the Holy Spirit. The gospel reading on this first day after Pentecost describes a man bringing his possessed son to the disciples for a healing. Mk 9:14-29. Their healing fails, and in desperation the Father brings his son to Jesus. He begs for help. Jesus indeed does cure the son, but this is what caught my eye. I might have missed this if it were not for yesterday’s feast. The father asks Jesus “If you can do anything” to help his son. Jesus replies “If YOU can do anything!” A few small words buried in the narrative, Jesus requires that the man do something to heal his son. Jesus can cure his boy, but only if one condition is met. There must be faith. Faith in God, and faith in all that God can do. The man declares his faith, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” He asks, he begs, and therefore he prays. With those petitions, his son is saved. His prayers are answered. With all of the detail that is given in that narrative it is easy to miss a couple of lines, but those lines are of extreme importance. They underscore the importance of faith and prayer, they describe a God that listens.

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.”

When the healing had been completed, the Apostles question why they were not successful. The answer is that prayer was required to drive away the demon. I wonder then what did those apostles do, what did they invoke to bring about a cure? I have my suspicion, but I turn my thoughts to a time they were successful. It was after the passion of Christ when a beggar asks Peter for some coin. He replies he has no money, but he will give what he does have: “In the name of Jesus Christ get up and walk.” That was an example of the strength the Apostles gained after the resurrection. It was when their faith was certain. Today though they are mere novices, Jesus tells them the healing required prayer. It required faith filled prayer, not incantations, not rhetoric, and not rituals. They could not simply go through the motions, they had to believe. It required the strength of conviction that the Holy Spirit so often delivers. I can hint too that there is an apostle’s prayer hidden in this healing narrative. They did ask “Jesus, what did we do wrong?” and He answered their call. He answered their prayer, no matter how simple the words. “Good God, what did I do wrong” Come Holy Spirit.

Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

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