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Gut Check

February 24, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014: Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

James 3:13-18. If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast.
Mark 9:14-29. I do believe, help my unbelief!

Gospel Reflection:

Praise be to Jesus Christ! For evermore!

I know I have mentioned this many times: I love Mark’s Gospel. At first glance you see, ‘Great! Short book!’ But then the meaning behind the carefully crafted passages unpack themselves, and we are taught. Not only taught, but taught very well.

Teacher… I do believe, help my unbelief!” I have to admit, I hadn’t thought much past scratching my head on this bi-polar statement. I just accepted it in faith. I mean just Friday, we, along with Peter, James, and John, were wowed atop Mt. Tabor by the Transfiguration; the Old Covenant was to be reborn in the New. Exciting stuff.

I’ve thought more about this Gospel recently, because there has been a lot of “exciting” things for my family. Like the father seeking healing for his child’s seizures, a week ago, while my wife and I were in Hood River, we received a phone call that our youngest child had suffered a seizure, and that they were transporting her to Doernbecher Emergency. So like Peter, James, and John, my wife and I drove down from the mountain, each trying to comprehend this latest blessing. We arrived, quickly, and were filled in by the Doctor, who relayed that sometimes this just happens, and that all of her signs were very good. And I remembered thinking, ‘Doctor… I do believe, help my unbelief!’ Meaning, I do believe I have faith – in Hebrews Chapter 11 verse 1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” – but I was also trying to get answers to address the earthly wisdom in the room with us and press for answers. Help my unbelief!

I think the dad in this story understood this maturation at that moment. Clearly, like so many of us, he had faith by bringing his son to this nascent Rabbi. So much so, that he even pressed the disciples to give it a try. And frantic, upon Jesus’ return, he innocently reveals his doubt – just like me. Just like many of us. “But if you can (if you can?!)have compassion on us and help us” (Mk 9:22b). Not just compassion, but Mark’s Greek uses σπλαγχνισθεὶς = splanchnistheis which means more like, Lord have ‘gut-wrenching empathy’ and help us. It is a gutsy word. Jesus looks at him – and us – with warm indignation. He knows we are trying.

So for me, they will run tests – so far so good – and I will believe. And I will rely on and trust on the Lord, from whom all good things come. That is our faith. That, as James put it today, “the wisdom from above is full of mercy and good fruits” (James 3:17).

Stay calm. Lent is coming – next week. Trust in the Lord – and believe.
Amen.

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