The Healing of the Demonized Boy


Beloved brethren, today in the Holy Gospel, we see the Lord Jesus Christ casting a deaf and dumb demon out of a possessed boy, after He has come down from Mt. Tabor following His Transfiguration. The father of the boy had been asking the apostles to cast the demon, and they could not. Christ Himself then comes down from the mountain, and after rebuking the man for his lack of faith, He casts out the demon. 

When Our Lord tells the father that he must have faith if he wants God to help him, the man says something very important: "Lord I believe; help my unbelief!" This seemingly paradoxical statement actually reveals our own state of soul too. We do believe - we are baptized Orthodox Christians, we come to Church, we say the Creed - we have faith. Yet is our faith as strong as it should be? Sadly, usually not, but we know from the lives of so many saints that the overwhelming, all-conquering power of faith in Christ is real, and that it works miracles. Once a pilgrim went to visit the great Holy Father Mark the Ascetic, and he asked him, "Father, what is faith?" The elder said, "Well, my son, why do you have to ask me that? It is all written in the Gospel. Our Lord told us, 'If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to that mountain, " Move and it will be moved..." ' " At that moment, a nearby mountain began to quake and even began to rise up into the air! The holy father, without showing the least surprise or interest, waved his hand at it and said, "Be still. I wasn't talking to you," and it settled back into its place. This is how great our saints are - they are indeed heavenly men and angels on earth. But it is not by their own power! It is by faith! How can we acquire even a little bit of this faith? 

First of all, we must practice gratitude to God, firmly convinced that everything that happens to us will be for our salvation, if only we cooperate with God's grace and do not leave the path of salvation. Ingratitude reveals lack of faith, and it invites more lack of faith. Thanksgiving and patience reveal faith, and they invite the gift of greater faith. 

Second, we must not blame others for our problems. What do we see today in the Gospel? The father of the boy blames the disciples for not casting out the demon. This distracts him from the real problem - it is not other people, it is his own lack of faith. If, in our times of trouble, we see our troubles as an opportunity to be cleansed of our own sins, without blaming others, we will always be at peace, and we will grow in faith. 

Finally, we must go to the Lord in prayer, with tears, and beg Him for the gift of greater faith. This is what the father of the boy does in the Gospel: It says that "with tears," he said, "I do believe; help my unbelief!" He was really, deeply grieved at his lack of faith. We too should not be grieved so much that our prayers are not answered; we should be grieved because we are weak in faith.  This is our problem! The Lord wants to give us greater faith! He is waiting to give it to us! But we must beg him - not once or twice, but often, continuously, with pain of heart. And He will come to us, and He will give us deeper faith, to "move the mountains" in our lives - those obstacles which we cannot overcome by merely human means. 

The Holy Fathers say that when the Lord came down from Mt Tabor following His Holy Transfiguration, He was even more beautiful than before, and this is why the crowds ran up to meet Him as he approached with Peter, James, and John. The troubles and sorrows of our lives are allowed by God, why? So that we will go deep within and seek that deeper beauty of soul which comes with faith. May our most-desired Lord, the Bridegroom of our souls, find us prepared to meet Him when He comes to meet us - in the very sorrows and difficulties we try so hard to escape. May He give us the gift of faith, the faith that moves mountains. 

To Him be the glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit unto the ages of ages, Amen.