Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Power and Need of Intercessory Prayer

In today's Gospel, Mark 7: 24-30, a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, begs Jesus to heal her daughter, who is possessed of "an unclean spirit."  Initially, Jesus dismisses her, calling her a derogatory name given to non-Jews of His time, much like, in our days, foreigners are dismissed and help is first given to U.S. citizens, not to undocumented immigrants.  The woman, however, is not put out. She insists that Jesus help her daughter. When Jesus says to her: "Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs," she retorts with "Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children's scraps."  She is not put off! It is like she says to Him: "Please, Lord, have some pity for humankind. My daughter deserves a healing as much as Jews do!"  Jesus is amazed at the faith of this woman and her persistence.  He heals her daughter, making her whole, freeing her of the "unclean spirit"!

Do you and I believe in the power of intercessory prayer, as did this Syrophoenician woman?  Do we have the self-confidence of this woman who is not deterred by derogatory remarks to persistent in what we believe is our responsibility to stand up for another and/or for ourselves?

We have many examples that testify to the power of intercessory prayer: persons healed at the shrines of Fatima and Lourdes, people like St. Augustine who are converted through the prayers of a mother/father, and many others miracles that have taken place throughout history.

As we reflect upon this Gospel, we might also ask ourselves:  Of what "demons" do you and I need to be freed? What healing do we need from Jesus? Are their persons in our lives in need of healing and do you and I realize how important it is to prayer for them?

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