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Fourth Sunday of Great Lent

 Mk. 9:18 He Foams and Grinds His Teeth and Becomes Rigid

the devil's business; undoing others.

minucius felix: These spirits therefore, having lost the simplicity of their created be­ing and the primitive fineness of their na­ture, are now clogged and laden with iniquity. Utterly undone themselves, they make it their whole business to undo others, for companions in misery. Being depraved themselves they would infuse the same de­pravity into others.... When we command them by the one true God, the wretches, bit­terly against their will, fall into horrible shiverings, and either spring straightaway from the bodies they possess, or vanish by degrees, according to the faith of the patient or the grace of the physician, octavius 24-27.

9:20 It Convulsed the Boy

the usurping spirit. peter chrysologus: Though it was the boy who fell on the ground, it was the devil in him who was in anguish. The possessed boy was merely convulsed, while the usurping spirit was be­ing convicted by the awesome judge. The captive was detained, but the captor was punished. Through the wrenching of the hu­man body, the punishment of the devil was made manifest. sermons 51.

9;21 "How Long Has He Had This?" And He Said, "From Childhood,"

the taint OF THE first transgression.

bede: Lacking the premise of original sin, what possible cause can be imagined in this youth why he should since childhood have been vexed with this most fierce demonic possession? It seems clear that no actual sin of his own could have elicited this. So let the catholic remember and confess that no one is born into this world free from the taint of the first transgression. Let him implore the grace of God through which he might be "de­livered from this body of death through Je­sus Christ our Lord." homilies on the gospels I.25.

9:22If You Can! All Things Are Possible to Him Who Believes

the infirm faith OF THE boy's father.

chrysostom: The Scripture indicates that this man was extremely weak in faith, as is evident at four points: from Christ's saying that "All things are possible to him that believes;" from the saying of the man him­self as he approached, "Help me in my unbelief;" from Christ's commanding the devil to "enter no more into him;" and from the man's saying again to Christ, "If you can."the gospel of st. matthew, homily 57.3. 9:24 I Believe; Help My Unbelief

emergent faith seeking maturity.

augustine: In saying, "When the Son of Man shall come, shall he find faith upon the earth?" our Lord spoke of that faith which is fully matured, which is so seldom found on earth. The church's faith is full, for who would come here if there were no fullness of faith? And whose faith when fully matured would not move mountains? Look at the apostles themselves, who would not have left all they had, trodden under foot this world's hope, and followed the Lord, if they had not had proportionally great faith. And yet if they had already experi­enced a completely matured faith, they would have not said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." Rather we find here an emerg­ing faith, which is not yet full faith, in that father who when he had presented to the Lord his son to be cured of an evil spirit and was asked whether he believed, an­swered, "Lord, I believe, help me in my un­belief." "Lord," says he, "I believe." "I believe"; therefore there was faith; but "help me in my unbelief: therefore there was not full faith. sermons on new tes­tament lessons 65.

pray TO believe, believe TO pray.

augustine: Where faith fails, prayer per­ishes. For who prays for that in which he does not believe?... So then in order that we may pray, let us believe,and let us pray that this same faith by which we pray may not falter. sermons on the new testa­ment lessons 65.I.

grace TO assist faith. john cassian: Seeing that his faith was being driven by the waves of unbelief on the rocks which would cause a fearful shipwreck,he asks of the Lord an aid to his faith, saying "Lord, help me in my unbelief." So thoroughly did the apostles and those who live in the gospel re­alize that everything which is good is brought to completion by the aid of the Lord, and not imagine that they could preserve their faith un­harmed by their own strength or free will, that they prayed that it might be helped and granted to them by the Lord, conference OF abbot paphnutius 16.

even THE faithless recognize THE value OF faith. caesarius OF arles: So

great is the virtue of faith that even those who refuse to keep it still presume to praise it. Truly deservedly is faith extolled, for without it no good work is ever begun or completed. sermons 12.

9;27 Jesus Took Him by the Hand

the human hand OF THE divine lord. bede: As he revealed himself to him in the reality of his Godhead by his power to save, so he further exhibited to him the reality of his human nature by taking him by the hand. homilies on the gospels I.26.

9:28 Why Could We Not Cast It Out?

the weapon of choice, tertullian: Fast­ing is the weapon of choice for battling with the more dreadful demons. Should we be surprised if the expulsion of the spirit of iniq­uity requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? on fasting 8.8.

9:29 This Kind Cannot Be Driven Out by Anything but Prayer

the necessity op prayer. jerome: The Lord himself consecrated his baptism by a forty days' fast, and taught us that the more violent devils cannot be overcome except by prayer and fasting. against jovinianus 2.15.


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