Sunday, May 15, 2016

Reflection for the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Help My Unbelief!

A scared, desperate father with a suffering son. A group of bewildered men who didn't know how to help. Angry, combative scribes out for an argument. A large crowd watching and listening intently. Such was the scene that greeted Jesus, Peter, James, and John when they climbed down from Mount Tabor.

The son was possessed by a demon who continually endangered his life and had been doing so for many years. His father had heard of a miracle worker and figured he'd take a change. But all he found was the Man's disciples, and they could do nothing even though they tried. The scribes argued. The crowd waited.

Then Jesus appeared. He listened carefully as the father explained the situation. Then He sighed and said, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to Me.”

The demon immediately threw the young man onto the ground. The father pleaded with Jesus, “...if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

“'If you can!'” Jesus replied, “Everything is possible to one who has faith.”

Staring at his thrashing son, the father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”

Jesus ordered the spirit to come out of the young man. It obeyed. It had no choice. Jesus took the young man by the hand, raised him up, and gave him back to his father, finally free of his suffering.

“I do believe, help my unbelief!” This is all Jesus expects. He knows that we, like this poor, frightened father, want to believe. He understands that we are weak in faith. But He wants our efforts. He wants our admission that our belief is often intermixed with unbelief. He can and does work with that, and He can and does help us increase our faith so long as we have open and honest hearts.

Tuesday – Submit, Resist, Draw Near

In today's first reading, St. James offers three essential pieces of advice.

1. “[S]ubmit yourselves to God.” The Greek verb here is hupotassō, and it literally means to place under an arrangement. So when we submit to God in this sense, we are subjecting ourselves to His plan, His arrangement, for our lives. We recognize that God is in control, that He can see infinitely further the we can, and that His goal is our eternal beatitude. We are willing to obey Him and accept whatever He gives and allows, trusting that He knows exactly what is best for us.

2. “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” Temptations surround us, and the enemy is always doing his best to pull us off course and off the path to Heaven. He fills our minds with doubts. He stirs up our passions and emotions. He tries his best to lead us into sin. But we don't have to give in. We have free will, and we can and must say a firm no to the enemy. The Greek verb for “resist” is anthistēmi, and it literally means to stand against completely. When we hold our ground against the enemy and allow God to help us in our fight, the enemy will flee.

3. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” God is, of course, near us always, but we aren't always aware of His presence. When we snuggle close to God, when we seek intimacy with Him, when we pray and read the Scriptures and devoutly receive the sacraments, we become much more attuned to His ever-present love.

So let us submit to God's plan, resist the Devil, and draw ever closer and closer to our loving God.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Wednesday – Poor in Spirit

Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may rely on You alone.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may be humble.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may recognize that You give me everything I have and everything I am.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may pray with a sincere and loving heart.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may trust You completely.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may be all Yours for all eternity.

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