Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the Lord is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple. (R./)
The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart. (R./)
The precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eye. (R./)
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The ordinances of the Lord are true,
all of them just. (R./)
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favour before you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (R./)
When Jesus, with Peter, James and John, came down to the other disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" Someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so." He answered them, "You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me." And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; butif you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us." Jesus said to him, "If you are able! - All things can be done for the one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out, "I believe; help my unbelief!" When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!" After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" He said to them, "This kind can come out only through prayer."
After their vision on the mountain-top, today's episode brings the chosen apostles back down to earth, to a world of illness and distress. A distraught father describes all the heartache he has gone through, seeking a cure for his troubled son. After healing the boy Jesus adds the statement, "This illness can be driven out only by prayer." Much later, in the garden of Gethsemane, he gives a similar teaching about prayer, "pray that you may not be put to the test" (Mk 14:38).
James offers another reflection about spiritual health and welfare, that it comes along with wisdom. For him, the wisdom that brings integrity comes from above... is is innocent, peaceable, lenient, docile, rich in sympathy and the kindly deeds that are its fruits, impartial and sincere. Such a spirituality "reaps the harvest of justice that has been sown in peace."
When we review our own needs for healing and health, we can join with the prayer of the sick child's father, "I do believe. Help my unbelief." What we aspire to reach is already within our grasp. Through the grace of God we find who we are, as children of God.
How readily we can identify with the man's anguished cry, 'I do have faith. Help the little faith I have.' The very fact of his coming to Jesus was itself a sign of faith, but he felt his faith was weak. There was nagging doubt mixed with his trust. That's just how many of us feel from time to time. Our faith is dented when some great trouble comes our way. It's hard to reconcile our faith with what's happening to us. Faith can be severely tested when we struggle with the darker side of life.
Jesus' own faith was tested by the prospect of his passion and as he hung dying on the cross. The gospel writers report his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and his prayers from the cross. When our faith is put to the test, we need to pray all the more, to cope with the struggle and come through it. Even when all seems lost, we need to keep reaching out, like the man in today's gospel.