The WORD in other words (2023) by Fr. Alan Meechan, SVD — Divine Word College, Calapan
Monday 7th Week in Ordinary Time
When I first got to know this text, our teacher spoke as if the father were at fault for his faith not being strong enough, and we students were all exhorted to show stronger faith in Christ than the father did – how could we open up to Christ’s power in our lives and that of others, if we were too lazy to try to have complete faith in him, we were asked? But the father’s faith gave him an enviable understanding of his relationship with Christ. He dared to make two requests of Jesus, help for his son and help for his own belief.
In the Greek New Testament, the father’s actual words are: the unbelief, rather than my unbelief. The father seems to look at what is lacking in his faith as almost an alien stumbling block to the growth of faith in his life, a difficulty which he would dearly love to conquer. This unbelief (or unfaithfulness or unbelievingness), rather than my unbelief, is not simply limited to the father and his own life, but it is relevant to all of us. Do we ask the Lord to help us in our own spiritual growth?
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary adds two important reminders: “The second part of what Jesus said (to the father) assumes that faith on the father’s part is integral to the healing action to be done by Jesus. As the story proceeds, it is clear that (the father’s) protestation of faith was sufficient for the healing to occur.”
As with the father, our lives as Christians are a continuous struggle to come closer to Christ, not simply for miracles to happen, but for the sake of coming closer to Christ and knowing him, for the joy of the growth in being true to our own humanity, and for the love that we will be able to show towards God and others.