This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
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Someone from the crowd answered Jesus, “Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.” He said to them in reply, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?”
I asked your disciples, but they were unable to help. Leave it to the Lord to help. In fact, as soon as He saw the poor fellow, He showed pity on him and immediately healed him. The scene must have been awesome. The disciples must have been a little dumbstruck. But just like the disciples, I too am curious why they were unable to help. Weren’t they Christ’s closest followers? Didn’t they have his blessing? I think the Lord’s answer must have surprised them. It is what I least expected. I thought He would have said: “Well, you’re not God. I am.” or “This was just too big for you.” or “You aren’t holy enough. Keep working on it.” No. Instead, the Lord said to his disciples: “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
Only through prayer. There are those who claim that “Nothing fails like prayer.” The Lord had a different opinion: This kind [of unclean spirit] can only come out through prayer. Obviously, not all prayers and prayer-ers are alike. If so, then it would have been foolish of the Lord to attribute any type of power to prayer, especially physical healing! Not only that, but it would have been foolhardy of Him to say “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened,” especially if prayer led to a dead end. As for me, I have no doubts what-so-ever: prayer works. I just need to have faith in it.
Faith and prayer. There is a tight relationship between faith and prayer. The more faith I have, the more likely I will pray. The less faith I have, the less likely I will pray. This is a sort of Catch-22. I need faith to pray and I need to pray to have faith.
Contrary to secular notions, prayer is not magic: Hey, just say the words and voilà! No! Not at all! “Prayer is an aspiration of the heart. It is a simple glance directed to Heaven. It is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy. Finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus” (St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul).
Words do not make a prayer, even the words of the Our Father taught to us by our Lord himself. What constitutes a prayer is the presence of God.
Prayer is essential. No man became a saint without praying. We all need to pray; that is, to grow in our relationship with the Lord. “He must increase; I must decrease” must be the model and center of all our prayers. Did the Lord hear John the Baptist’s prayers? You bet! Even when he was thrown in jail? You bet. Even when he was about to be beheaded? You bet. Did the Father hear the prayers of His Son? Yes. Even when he was about to be betrayed? Yes. Even when he was arrested, tortured and crucified? Yes.
St. Teresa of Avila: Let noting disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices. (136)
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