IN THOSE DAYS, a man came to Jesus, knelt before Him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not heal him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed instantly.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast the demon out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell 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, and nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind of demon does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” As they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised.”
Faith is a pre-requisite to miracles, to salvation. Faith is not a superstition. Faith is not believing in something that isn't there. Faith is not something we have, it is rather something we experience and do. Faith is an ongoing, dynamic, and active relationship in and with Jesus Christ.
Faith is the theme of the above Gospel lesson. Having just come down from the mountain, where Jesus transfigured (revealed His true divine nature) before three of His disciples, Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1-13), He was met with lack of faith. Not unlike Moses after receiving the Law from God on Mount Sinai, and finding the people of Israel fallen into idolatry and sexual immorality (Exodus 32). A certain man brought his son before Jesus. The son was visibly sick, some English translations say he had seizures, or epilepsy, or that he was a lunatic (meaning, his seizures were affected by the moon).
The man brought his son to the disciples, while Jesus was on the mountain, but they were unable to heal the boy. This is significant because they already received authority to heal and cast out demons (Matthew 10:1). What happened? Why couldn't they exercise their, God-given, authority? Jesus explains it simply - lack of faith, "You faithless and perverse generation."
Who is faithless in this instance? There was a huge crowd waiting at the foot of the mountain, there were nine of the disciples who did not go up, there was the father with his son. The Lord reproaches each and every one of them. They wanted to see another miracle, not so much one their neighbors be healed from his suffering. In other words, the crowd wanted a spectacle, not God in action. The father was reproached for coming to the disciples without much faith, and then putting them on blast in front of the whole crowd, "I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not heal him." And there's even an implication that the son was reproached for lack of faith.
The disciples were scolded twice, once with the whole crowd and then privately. "Why could we not cast the demon out?" - "Because of your little faith." It seems they came to doubt the power that Jesus had given them. The Lord chastised even further, if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, nothing would've been impossible for them. Ouch! Their faith was not little, it was miniscule.
That kind of demon is cast out by prayer and fasting. In fact, our faith is completed by these two important works. Prayer is faith in action; fasting is aid to prayer. These two disciplines are inseparable and they make up the foundation of the spiritual life in Christ.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest