Memory of the Poor

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Memory of Saint Peter Damian (1007-1072). Faithful to his monastic vocation, he loved the entire Church and spent his life reforming it. Memory of the monks in every part of the world.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 9, 14-29

As they were rejoining the disciples they saw a large crowd round them and some scribes arguing with them.

At once, when they saw him, the whole crowd were struck with amazement and ran to greet him.

And he asked them, 'What are you arguing about with them?'

A man answered him from the crowd, 'Master, I have brought my son to you; there is a spirit of dumbness in him,

and when it takes hold of him it throws him to the ground, and he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and goes rigid. And I asked your disciples to drive it out and they were unable to.'

In reply he said to them, 'Faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.'

They brought the boy to him, and at once the spirit of dumbness threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell to the ground and lay writhing there, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the father, 'How long has this been happening to him?' 'From childhood,' he said,

'and it has often thrown him into fire and into water, in order to destroy him.

But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.'

'If you can?' retorted Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who has faith.' At once the father of the boy cried out, 'I have faith. Help my lack of faith!'

And when Jesus saw that a crowd was gathering, he rebuked the unclean spirit. 'Deaf and dumb spirit,' he said, 'I command you: come out of him and never enter him again.'

Then it threw the boy into violent convulsions and came out shouting, and the boy lay there so like a corpse that most of them said, 'He is dead.'

But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him up, and he was able to stand.

When he had gone indoors, his disciples asked him when they were by themselves, 'Why were we unable to drive it out?'

He answered, 'This is the kind that can be driven out only by prayer.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus comes down from the mountain of the Transfiguration with the three apostles he had brought with him and runs into the disciples who had stayed down on the plain and are now arguing with the Pharisees. The source of their argument was the disciples’ inability to heal an epileptic boy. The boy’s father wanted to bring him to Jesus so he would heal him, but when he didn’t find Jesus, he presented him to the disciples. But they were not able to heal him. In truth, how often still today are the disciples of Jesus, the Christian communities, unable to heal the sick, to lift the afflicted from their desperation, or to give hope to those who have lost it or have difficulty keeping it! So many sick people remain crushed by their sadness and their loneliness. Truly, without the Lord, nothing is possible for Christians. Jesus had said as much to them: "Apart from me you can do nothing." But pride blinds the disciples as it blinds anyone else and leaves them powerless whenever they think they don’t need the Lord. In any case, the boy’s father, ignoring the theoretical debate that had arisen between the Pharisees and the disciples, turns directly to Jesus and asks him to intervene and heal his son. Jesus tells him: "All things can be done for the one who believes." And the father responds: "I believe; help my unbelief!" Jesus, seeing that faith, simple but real, orders the "spirit that keeps [the] boy from speaking and hearing" to come out of him. The love and strength of Jesus are stronger than the unclean "spirit:" he takes the young man by the hand and brings him back to life. When the disciples ask for a reason for their powerlessness, Jesus answers by telling them about the strength of prayer. They hadn’t even considered it, and this was the source of their powerlessness. It is an extraordinary lesson that we need to learn urgently and, most of all, put into practice. Reflecting on the sentence in the letter of James: "Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren?" (2:20), a wise Russian writer has used a beautiful expression: "Prayer is the first deed of faith."