Matthew’s gospel has shortened the account we read today (Matthew 17,14-20) of a miracle reported already in Mark’s gospel. A man steps out of the crowd and pleads on his knees for his son, who is a “lunatic… always falling into fire and water.” From the boy’s convulsions, he probably had epilepsy, but the people of Jesus day believed his condition was caused by the moon.
Even today people claim some lunacy come from a full moon.
“I took him to your disciples and they were unable to cure him.” the father tells Jesus. In response, Jesus complains of “this perverse and crooked generation’s lack of faith.” Nor does he exclude his own disciples: they could do more to relieve those like the poor boy if they prayed and fasted more.
“Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured.”
I don’t know why Matthew left out the touching response the boy’s father makes to Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” There’s something beautiful about his words that confess the measure of unbelief we all have and also our desire for a greater faith.
He speaks for us all. Help our unbelief.