Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 

"I believe. Help the little faith I have"

Homily for the Sunday of St. John Climacus

By Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent: Sunday of St. John Climacus

Mark 9:17-31

"I believe. Help the little faith I have"

One day a father brought his sick son to Jesus with the faint hope that Jesus could cure him. He said to him: "Master, I brought my son to you, because he has an evil spirit in him and cannot talk". The father went on to say that the evil spirit possessing his son would torture him. On many occasions the boy had thrown himself into the fire and almost burned to death. At other times he had fallen into the water and nearly drowned. He was a tortured, afflicted person. The father was desperate in his search for a cure. He had sought out the best medical treatment but with no success. Finally he had brought his son to his disciples. Even they could not help. The father's complaint to Jesus is poignant.

"Bring him to me"

Jesus said to the father: "bring him to me". One of the great secrets of life is to be found in theses few words: "bring him to me". When we have a sickness or a problem, we Christians always have someone to whom we can go. Jesus said to us: "Come to me all you who tired from carrying your heavy burdens and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28). How many cries for help we hear every day! If we try to help them alone, we are helpless. But if we believe in Jesus, it is our mission to bring them to the true Helper. As parents, friends, employers, fellow workers, we can be His middlemen, His helpers. All who need help will find real help only in Him. But before we can bring others to Christ, we must bring ourselves to Him. We must let Jesus strengthen our faith. We must let him break the power of sin in our lives and set us free. We must let him perform the miracle of salvation for us. Then we cannot help but bring others to Him. We chant in the great doxology: "For in you is the fountain of life". Jesus is the Son of God; He is the Word of God; that is why He is our only Savior.

"How Long Has He Had This"

Jesus dealt with the father in a beautiful and tender way. He begun with the question: "How long has he had this?" Of course Jesus knew! The question was asked only to give this father the courage to speak out the story of his long sorrow. Jesus was in effect saying to the father: "I am interested in your problem. Tell me about it." The very fact that the father found a sympathetic listener helped lift the burden. There is a great healing power in having someone to listen, who sincerely cares and understands. Here lies part of the great power of prayer. We have a God who loves us and wants us to pour out our problems to Him. The father poured out his heart to Jesus and gave vent to the bitterness that had poisoned the happiness of his home all these years.

"If you can do anything"

As the father told his sad story the boy had another attack. Looking at the gentle face of he Galilean, the father pleaded: "If you can do anything, have mercy on us and help us". The most important word in the man's appeal for help was "if" – "If you can do anything". One can understand why the father had some doubt as to whether Jesus could help him. He had been disappointed so many times. His little boy had epilepsy since childhood. Like any father, he had left no stone unturned to heal reach. He had purchased every new drug on the market. He had carried him to the synagogue to be prayed for; he had even brought him to Jesus' disciples. All these had failed. Each time he met with disappointment. It was only natural for the father to have some disbelief.

"If you can believe…"

Jesus countered with another "if" – "If you can believe: all things are possible to him who believes". He suggested that the father's faith had a lot to do with the whole situation. The problem, says Jesus, is not whether I have the power to heal; the problem is whether or not you believe I have the power. For "all things are possible to him who believes." God's power is limited only by our faith.

Faith has no power by itself. It is only when it clings to Christ that it lays hold of the tremendous power of almighty God. It is our faith in Christ that determines the amount of power we shall receive from Him.

"I believe. Help the little faith I have"

Jesus performed two miracles. He not only healed the epileptic boy; He also increased the father's faith. From saying: "If you can do anything", the desperate father reached the point where he could say: "I believe". And yet it was not a change from unbelief to complete belief. His one-sentence prayer; "Help the little faith I have" showed that he did not possess complete and absolute faith. He expressed and acted on the faith he had, but he did not hide his doubt. He was honest with Christ. No person believes perfectly. But the important thing is whether we let ourselves be controlled by the faith we have or by our debts. Miracles happen not because of perfect faith, but rather because of imperfect faith in the perfect Christ.

Prayer

Lord we believe. We believe that you are the greatest miracle that ever happened on earth. We see how you healed the epileptic boy and so many others. We see how much you cared for people – how gently you treated the troubled father, how You increased his faith. Lord, we acknowledge that the size of our cup of faith is small. Increase it – we pray – that our lives be filled with your peace, power and love. Amen.

   

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