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Healing through prayer

February 20, 2017

Mark 9: 14-29                                    Monday 20 February 2017

The Gospel today, in a funny sort of way, links in with the First Reading from Ecclesiasticus (1:1-10). The message is: human wisdom – don’t rely on it! It goes wrong. Divine wisdom, on the other hand, is something very special.

Mark’s gospel is a really fast moving gospel with exciting stories. What you need to know is that what happened just before this incident with the boy who seems to be suffering from what we might today call epilepsy or some sort of seizures, before this happened Jesus had been up the mountain – the Transfiguration has just happened. Peter, James and John were there with Him, and they saw Jesus transfigured. And as they come down the mountain together, they could hear all these people arguing.

Arguing. That’s a clue. Human wisdom! We have two by-elections this week haven’t we? Oh, how they argue, don’t they! Everyone is in disarray. ‘What shall we do next?’ ‘What should we do?’ Fake news. All this sort of stuff is just human wisdom gone beserk. Mad!

We need Divine Wisdom.

But there is a little parallel I just want to draw to your attention. Do you remember that last week Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do they say I am?” And a lot of people seemed to think that Jesus might be Moses, come back to lead the people to freedom. Clearly He wasn’t. Moses was present at the Transfiguration, proving two things: Jesus was not Moses; and it also proves that there is life after death. Moses was present at the Transfiguration, but he had been dead for a thousand years. Still alive, talking to Jesus.

Jesus, Peter, James and John come down the mountain to find the people in disarray.

A similar thing had happened to Moses. Do you remember? Moses went up the mountain to speak with God and receive the Commandments (Exodus 32). And then, as Moses comes down the mountain, there is a hubbub of people.

This was why people thought Jesus might be Moses, because what happened to Moses happened to Jesus. But there is a Divine Wisdom present with Jesus.

As Moses came down the mountain it turned out that the people had made themselves a Golden Calf. They had lost their faith. They had gone back to the old Egyptian ways they had had for generations, worshipping the Golden Calf. No good at all. Moses knew this would happen, because he had been warned by God what to expect.

As Jesus comes down the mountain He too, like Moses, already knows what is going to happen. He is coming down the mountain and there is a hubbub going on. It is very interesting to read the gospel and see what actually is going on – the sheer humanity of it all: the disciples, who had been left on their own whilst He was away with his ‘senior’ disciples, have been approached by the crowd asking if they can cure this boy. The remaining disciples have clearly been casting out demons before, but with this bot, it does not work. The reaction of the crowd? You can imagine the scene. ‘What a load of rubbish!’ ‘They’re con merchants!’ And then Jesus arrives. And the crowd sees Him and come over to Him. They’ve given up on the disciples – it is the crowd that Jesus addresses. It is as if the people are saying, ‘Well, we’re wasting our time with these useless disciples, let’s try the main man!’ And the scene is the same as when the people were in uproar as Moses came down the mountain. The people have lost their faith! But these people, the people talking to Jesus, although they may not realise it, are talking to Divine Wisdom.

And that Divine Wisdom says, ‘How long have I got to put up with you?’

Do remember this weekend Father Paul saying how Jesus was fully human, and it is human to get angry? Jesus doesn’t get so much angry as really frustrated. ‘How much longer have I got to put up with these people?’ And the sick boy’s father shouts out, ‘Help me! If you can do it, do it!’ Jesus says, ‘If I can? What do you mean, if I can? With faith you can do anything!’

Can you see how frustrated He is? Of course Jesus can heal him – He is God!

Can you imagine how desperate than man is for his son to be healed? After a lifetime, his son’s childhood, has been blighted by terrible things happening, having seizures and turns and all sorts.

Jesus heals him.

But the people’s faith is still wobbly. The crowd is shouting ‘What’s going on here?’ ‘He has killed him, he has killed him, he’s lying there.’ No. Jesus helps him stand up again.

On the way down the mountain after the Transfiguration Jesus had been talking to His disciples about the Resurrection, what was going happen. And here, at the bottom of the mountain with the crowd there is a hint of this again. Not a resurrection, but life being restored. Now, just imagine what St Peter, or James or John are thinking at this moment. They have just witnessed the Transfiguration and been told about the truth of resurrection. And the first thing that happens when they come into contact with ‘ordinary’ people again is a miracle, and what Jesus had been talking about happens!

So, don’t despair when we find in our lives that we end up arguing, and we get frustrated and angry. And the mob is shouting one thing and people don’t know what to do. This is what happens with humans.

The answer is to turn to Divine Wisdom. Which is what you are doing. You are in church at Mass. You are starting off the week the right way.

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