Saturday, August 08, 2020

Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest

The disciples in today’s gospel just couldn’t do it, they couldn’t that horrible demon to come out of the boy. I’m certain that they tried, but their prayers didn’t work out. Jesus needed to intervene so that the demon would come out of that child. Why wasn’t the disciples’ prayer answered, why didn’t the evil spirit come out of the boy with their prayer of exorcism? Perhaps because they thought it was about THEM and their power. Only Jesus does the expelling. We, his disciples, are just the instruments.

“If only you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.” It doesn’t take much, does it? But too often we rely too much on ourselves, thinking way too much about the power within that comes solely from God. To make matters worse, we aren’t magicians and neither is God.

But don’t we feel that sometimes by asking God why certain prayers aren’t answered. Why doesn’t God heal my child of this disease? Why won’t you make my spouse faithful? We keep praying for the violence against innocent people to end, but God just keeps silent. The ultimate dilemma of faith, when God doesn’t answer certain prayers that beg to be answered in the affirmative,”Yes, I will cure your child.”

I wish I had a good answer for this ultimate dilemma that transforms many people into non-believers. One can’t blame them. But faith is a gift that can’t be manipulated in ways that we expect. God’s expectations and plan can’t we discerned except through discerning, which means wisdom. And Wisdom always leads to the Cross, the truly ULTIMATE question/answer to life’s many perplexities.

Wisdom teaches us that if God is expected to answer certain prayers as if there could be no other response than how we think God should answer, aren’t we in the driver’s seat? Aren’t we the ones calling the shots? The harsh reality of faith is that Jesus did NOT cure everyone who was sick; He did not release demons from every possessed child, let alone adult; he raised very few from the dead. Two or three at most. Whose counting?

If only we had faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains. What mountains? Clearly, Jesus is not referring to physical mountains but barriers WITHIN the human heart that feel like huge mountains that are unmovable. Well, they are. Movable. With tiny, seed- like faith. Yes, we can move these inner mountains of presumption ( a huge one), of persistent doubt, of a refusal to see the larger picture, of a failure to surrender to God’s will. These inner, huge mountains CAN be moved. With faith the size of a mustard seed. Wisdom teaches us to just be silent before God when the mystery of evil and suffering overwhelm. This mountain of overwhelming CAN be moved, if only we let it.

Fr. Frank.