Lent Kick-OffPosted: February 24, 2009
Luke 9 has a story about Jesus and his inner circle spending (at least) a day and a night on a mountain in prayer and collective vision…
They come down from the mountain and find the other disciples attempting an exorcism- and its not going well. Interestingly, the father of the possessed kid speaks up first about how the disciples can’t perform the exorcism correctly.
Jesus says something about deceitfulness, something about prayer and fasting and tells the demon to leave.
Why does the father speak up first? Why doesn’t he let the experts (Jesus and His disciples) talk amongst themselves? Why is he so quick to blame the disciples? Because he is covering his own butt. That, or he doesn’t even know what the problem is and assumed its not his fault.
Prayer and fasting are part and parcel of the Jewish religion that all the characters in this story adhere to.
So, when Jesus raises the issue of prayer and fasting, do you think its Jesus who isn’t praying and fasting? Nope.
Is it Jesus’ disciples? The guys and gals who have given their lives to follow him- do you think he’s going to let them slide on this central practice just so he can call them out and embarress them at the exorcism? Nope.
I think its the father- the head of the house- who is not leading his family according to scripture and tradition. Perhaps not engaging in prayer and fasting himself- or perhaps by allowing the practice to be left undone by others in his family, he has missed his purpose as “head of the household”.
The leader in a given situation is the one who not only sees and knows what needs to be done- but ensures that it gets done. The father, in this situation, doesn’t fulfill his responsibility and in the crunch tries to shift the blame to the disciples. Had the family in question been engaged in the practices of prayer and fasting, would the exorcism be necessary?
Jesus’ divine revelation- His word of knowledge, if you will- speaks directly to the responsibilities of the father left undone. The father has allowed demonic influence into his own household. Jesus calls him on it, but doesn’t condemn him to the results of his sin. He still performs the exorcism.
This Lenten season may be a time for picking up the things i’ve dropped and doing the things i’ve left undone. Are my responsibilities being passed to another? Am i engaged in practices that protect and nurture my family?