Jesus had just given Peter, James and John a glimpse of his glory when he was transfigured and spoke with Moses and Elijah of his destiny on Calvary. And now as they join the rest of the Apostles at the foot of the mountain, they find them engaged in argument with a crowd, who want to know what has happened with their power to cure and drive out evil spirits.
A father had brought his boy to the Apostles and no one of them and not all of them together had been able to bring about a cure.
So the father kneels down and appeals to Jesus: "take pity on my son, who is demented… He often falls into the fire and frequently into the water. I have brought him to your disciples and they could not cure him."
Jesus drives out the evil spirit and the boy is cured. But now the Apostles want to know, "What happened to the power you gave us?" In Matthew’s account, Jesus tells them: "Because you have so little trust, I assure you if you had the faith the size of a mustard seed, you would be able to say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move."
The faith, Jesus is talking about here, is not faith in God and the word of God. It is the faith that works miracles–a special gift God still imparts to specific people.
Jesus pointed out the need of faith in those he endowed with a share in his power. That same faith is required of those seeking God’s help. In Mark’s account Jesus demands the same faith from the boy’s father, who happily replies: "I do believe, help my unbelief."
We can utter that prayer for belief in answers to our prayers as well as our belief in the grace that saves our souls. The faith that Martha expressed to Jesus: "I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into this world."
God is still with us. His healers are still with us. When St. Augustine claimed the age of miracles had passed, the numbers who assured him they had experienced God’s power in their lives made him change his opinion. What happened at the base of Mt. Tabor happens now with same requirement of faith.
Fr. Fred Sucher, C.P. is retired and lives at the Sacred Heart Community in Louisville, Kentucky. For many years he taught philosophy to Passionist seminarians.