In today’s Gospel reading Jesus asks: “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you?” (Mark 9:19). On face value, it seems like a couple of strange questions, coming from Jesus, given that He has promised to be with us always, even until the end of the age (Matt 28:20). To the average reader, this would seem like a contradiction. So, what exactly is Jesus saying when He asks these questions?
“O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?”
Jesus never answers this question. He only poses it, as a rhetorical question, to a group of people gathered around Him seeking Jesus’ assistance in curing a young boy of seizures. By His statement, He recognizes the weakness of human faith, as we are imperfect beings. We all have our doubts from time to time. His reaction is to cure the boy of seizures; to demonstrate to each of us that we can place our full faith and trust in Him. Therefore, He is calling us to be a faith-filled generation.
How long will I endure you?”
Before Jesus cures the boy of seizures, resulting from demonic possession, the father of the young boy states, “if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Well, with this comment, Jesus becomes a little indignant and replies, “If you are able! – All things can be done for the one who believes” (Mark 9:23). So, what Jesus is really asking of the father in this Bible passage, as well as of us today is, “What will it take for you to place your full faith and trust in Me?” How long must Jesus endure unbelief?
How would you respond to Jesus today?
It strikes me that we are a faithless generation. Over my sixty-plus years, I have seen a steady decline in observance of faith. The pews in Church don’t fill up any longer, like they did when I was a child. Fewer people volunteer to help the needy, because of their busy lives. As a society, we have removed God from much of what we do, in the name of tolerance of other’s unbelief.
So, if Jesus were standing in front of you today and asked you these two questions from today’s Gospel, what would be your response? Do you place your full faith and trust in Him? Do you believe that all things can be done for the one who believes? Will you be willing to say (as the father of the young boy said), “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)? Jesus is waiting for your answer.
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