If You Can!

“If You Can!”
A reflection on Mark 9:23-24 and Luke 1:37
Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
©2022 by Gloria M. Chang

Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-24

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:34-38

God in a Womb

Teetering between belief and unbelief (pistis and apistia), a Jewish father begged Jesus to deliver his demon-possessed boy. The nine disciples left behind during the Transfiguration had failed to cast out the mute spirit. In the ensuing commotion, arguments broke out with the scribes in the crowd. 

“O faithless generation!” Jesus lamented, addressing both the Twelve and the crowd. His own disciples had a long way to grow in spiritual discernment. Desperately, the father pleaded, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 

“‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” These words from the son of Mary recall the Annunciation, when his own mother vowed, “Let it be to me!” In Latin, “Fiat mihi!” she overcame her own perplexity—“How can this be?” While faithless man limits God, the faithful Virgin magnifies the unlimited.

Unbelieving man,
Squeezing God into a box,
Implores, “If you can…”

Mary’s “Let it be”
Welcomed God into her womb
With “Fiat mihi!”

“…for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Luke 1:37

With faith all things are possible.
For God nothing’s impossible.

6 Replies to “If You Can!”

  1. Thank you for your comparison of seesaw to describe belief and unbelief.
    I have many seesaw days,
    Touching the ground,
    Feeling weighed down,
    Stuck in a rut, lost in a maze.
    “Only through prayer,” Jesus says.
    “Help my unbelief, Lord,”
    Light begins to replace my weight,
    I feel God’s power to resuscitate!

  2. I really empathize with the Jewish father. I am one who teeters on the shore of faith and fear. I do believe…but does God believe in me? I become frightened. I’m not good enough, not worthy enough, not able enough. So I just fall at His feet in a tired heap. Help me, Jesus, in my unbelief.

    1. With faith all things are possible, even walking on water.

      At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.”

      Matthew 14:27-29

      See Walking on Water with Jesus

  3. Dear Gloria, your reflection today really hits home with me. Thank God I can say that I’m living proof that keeping our prayer life open, keeping the conversation with God open, yields holy benefits. Throughout all my bipolar illness, I never let go of God’s hand, or rather, more to the truth, he never let go of mine. He stays with us, and nurses us, and gives us holy promptings, if we would only let him do that. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Wishing you all the best, in Christ!

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