When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Mark 9:14-29
Again, I’m not going to make much of a post on Sundays, but I will offer up the Scripture reading from our Sunday morning worship, and a quick thought. Remember, with Holy Walkabout we’re trying to let this Aboriginal practice shape us. Remember, to Western thinking, like through the eyes of the English settlers come to Australia, the Aborigines could seem inferior, ignorant, and unreliable. In the middle of the workday they could be known to take off unannounced, and not return for months, taking nothing with them. Sometimes, this was walkabout.
But their culture, for all its appearance of “primitive” to the Aussies, prizes something greater than work, livelihood and life’s other commitments — personal spirituality. Now, no, we’re not mimicking their spirituality itself, but we’re applying that way of prioritizing to our Christian and Lenten journey. We’re trying to remember how significant our hearts are before God, and time spent seeking; we’re trying to confess that we are not complete as persons, but have room to grow and learn and discover. We’re admitting that we need help. We’re putting that mission before all other commitments, not knowing what lies ahead, and not trying to prepare/plan/micro-manage every step. Mick gives another good sample at the end of Crocodile Dundee. Having followed his love interest from the Outback to NYC, and believing her lost for good, something in him says it’s time to do some searching; it’s time for walkabout, immediately and indefinitely. Watch:
Walkabout isn’t made for those of us who live to “get things done”; it’s about the doing itself. Bring that with you to Lent. Because even if you observe these 40 days perfectly, follow your plans, and complete your personal checklist, it will come again NEXT YEAR, and the year after, and after that. We will never be done with Lent; try to enjoy the doing. Remember, the two goals: to treat Jesus as a living person that we can know, and to LISTEN to him as people who have some listening to do indeed.
We see the need for listening in today’s Mark passage. Right after God tells the followers to listen to Jesus, we get a feel for a part of the reasoning… there are things that even the disciples cannot handle on their own. Even though they are the “apostles,” the ones sent out by Jesus with authority to heal and cast out evil spirits, these that were waiting for Jesus at the foot of the mountain can’t drive out this boy’s particular demon. Even though they had done the same thing maybe hundreds of times. Because the story grows, and we come across new and undiscovered things, in the world and in ourselves, and we just need Jesus’ help every time. We should never become convinced we can succeed on our own strength, our own experience, or our own talent. If so, we might just meet something we’ve never seen before.
To handle those situations like the demon that stumps the disciples, we need deep faith and connection with Jesus, living faith in a living God. How can we adapt to any situation? By staying in constant conversation with Christ Jesus, and constantly listening. So, remember, Jesus is alive today, and with you. Listen to him.