Lesson – Mark ix. 16–28
The Venerable St. Bede:
And one of the multitude, answering, said: “Master, I have brought my son to you, having a dumb spirit. Who, wherever he takes him, dashes him, and he foams and gnashes with the teeth, and pines away; and I spoke to your disciples to cast him out and they could not”. Who answering them, said: “O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him to me”. And they brought him. And when he had seen Him, immediately the spirit troubled him; and being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming. And He asked his father: “How long time is it since this has happened to him?” But he said: “From his infancy: And often he has cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But if you can do any thing, help us, having compassion on us”. And Jesus saith to him: “If you believe, all things are possible to him that believes”. And immediately the father of the boy crying out with tears said: “I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief”. And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, He threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, go out of him and enter not any more into him”. And crying out, and greatly tearing him, he went out of him, and he became as dead, so that many said: “He is dead”. But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up; and he arose. And when He was come into the house, His disciples secretly asked Him: “Why could not we cast him out?” And He said to them: “This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting”.Praise be to you, O Christ.
The Venerable St. Bede:
Concerning this possessed person whom the Lord healed, after that He was come down from the mount, Mark said that he was deaf and dumb, and Matthew (xvii. 15) that he was lunatic. He was a figure of them of whom it is said: “A fool changes as the moon” (Ecclesiastes xxvii. 12.) These are they who continue never in one stay, but change now to one sin, and now to another, waxing and waning — dumb, in that they confess not the faith; deaf, in that they have no ears for the word of truth. They foam at the mouth also, and pine away with folly. For it is the way with idiots, and swooners, and stupified, to foam their spittle out at their mouths. They gnash their teeth when they are inflamed with the heat of passion. They wither up in the paralysis of sloth and live nerveless lives unbraced by any strong exercise.
The father said: “And I spoke to your disciples, that they should cast him out, and they could not”. Here he makes a sort of accusation against the Apostles. But that cures cannot be wrought is sometimes owing not to the powerlessness of them that would heal, but to the want of faith in them that are to be healed — as says the Lord: “According to your faith be it done to you” (Matthew ix. 29.) He answereth him, and said: “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?” The meek and lowly One, Who, as a lamb before his shearers, is dumb, so opened not His Mouth, was not wearied out of patience, nor did He break out into words of passion, but He spoke as a physician might speak, who saw that the sick man did contrary to his commands: “Wherefore should I come to your house? How long am I to throw away the exercise of my skill, while I order one thing and you do another?”
And He said to them: “This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting”. While He teaches the Apostles how the very worst kind of devil must be driven out, He gives to all of us an instruction to life, that we may know that the most grievous trials, either from unclean spirits, or from men, are to be overcome by fasting and prayer. The wrath of the Lord also, when it is kindled to take vengeance of our sins, can be turned away by this remedy only. To fast, in a general sense, is not only to abstain from meats, but to restrain oneself from all the inticements of the flesh, and from all evil passions. So also, to pray, is not only to call in words for the mercy of God, but also, in all things which we do, in earnestness of faith to worship our Maker.