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The healing of a boy with a demon

Gospel reading: Mt 17:14-20

A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said, “Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.” Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

REFLECTIONS: They could not cure him

The healing of a boy with a demon follows the glorious experience of the three apostles up a high mountain where they saw Jesus transfigured (cf Mt 17:1-8). Peter, James, and John may have felt privileged and empowered by that experience. But coming down the mountain, they are immediately confronted with the reality of suffering and failure.

When they ask Jesus about the expected return of Elijah, Jesus replies that the prophet has already returned in the person of John the Baptist whom Herod had put to death. Jesus, too, speaks of his own suffering as sharing the fate of the prophet of God (cf Mt 17:10-13).

Next comes the prospect of failure. The disciples are unable to cure a lunatic, a young man possessed by a demon. It is Jesus who drives out the devil. When the disciples ask why they could not drive the demon out, Jesus replies, “Because of your little faith.” Whose faith is wanting? It may be that of the disciples who rely too much on themselves, forgetting that they have to rely on God (the variant reading in Mk 9:29 speaks of the need of prayer and fasting). Or the lack of faith may apply to those around.

Without a firm faith in the Lord, our attempts to help those in need will end in futility.

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Lord, use our life’s failures to move us forward – with our confidence in you.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website:

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