Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 9:14-29
Posted by Dim Bulb on May 15, 2016
Text in red are my additions.
Mk 9:14. And coming to his disciples he saw a great multitude about them and the scribes disputing with them.
coming to his disciples. To the nine who were at the foot of the
mountain. This happened the day following (Lk 9:37), as St Luke tells us.This seems to indicate night as the time when the Transfiguration took place.
he saw a great multitude. St Luke adds the multitude met Him.
the scribes disputing with them. They perhaps hoped to overcome
the disciples now that Jesus was absent. Probably they denied that
the Apostles could work miracles, even as they denied that Christ had the power to do so.
Mar 9:15 And presently all the people, seeing Jesus, were astonished and struck with fear: and running to him, they saluted him.
astonished and struck with fear. The original word denotes
extreme terror. The terror of the multitude on seeing Jesus might
arise from several causes.
(a) They did not expect to see Him appear so opportunely.
(b) Something of the glory of the Transfiguration may still have shone on His face, as the face of Moses shone when he came down from Mount Sinai.
running to him, they saluted him. Their fear did not overcome their
joy at seeing Him.
Mar 9:16 And he asked them: What do you question about among you?
he asked them, etc. Jesus inquired of those nearest, What do you question about among you? The father of the lunatic is the only one to answer, falling down on his knees before him saying; Lord,
pity on my son, for he is a lunatic, and suffereth much: for he falleth often into the fire, and often into the water (St Matt. 17:14). These are the ordinary symptoms of epilepsy, which the demon probably aggravated, since the boy was possessed by a dumb spirit. The words he is a lunatic shew that the father connects the boy s convulsions with the changes of the moon.
Mar 9:17 And one of the multitude, answering, said: Master, I have brought my son to thee, having a dumb spirit.
Master, I have brought my son to thee. The man had brought his
son, hoping to find Jesus with the disciples.
a dumb spirit. Since St Luke tells us he suddenly crieth out (Lk 9:39), we may conclude the boy could not utter articulate sounds.
Mar 9:18 Who, wheresoever he taketh him, dasheth him: and he foameth and gnasheth with the teeth and pineth away. And I spoke to thy disciples to cast him out: and they could not.
wheresoever=whenever. The convulsions were intermittent.
he taketh him, dasheth him, etc. The father describes minutely the
effects of the natural disease of epilepsy, attributing them to the action of the dumb spirit.
I spoke to thy disciples to cast him out. The man had clearly heard of miracles worked by the Apostles.
they could not. He attributes the failure to want of power, not lack of good will. The Apostles had tried to cast out the devil, but had failed signally.
Mar 9:19 Who answering them, said: O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him unto me.
O incredulous generation. A rebuke to the multitude in general, to the father of the child, and to the Apostles also (indirectly). St Matt.
gives unbelieving and perverse generation (Mt 17:16).
how long shall I be with you? To bear with and to teach you.
Mar 9:20 And they brought him. And when he had seen him, immediately the spirit troubled him and being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming.
when he had seen him, etc. When the devil in the boy was brought close to Jesus. The devils often troubled their victims thus, when in the presence of Jesus.
Mar 9:21 And he asked his father: How long time is it since this hath happened unto him? But he sad: From his infancy.
How long time is it, etc. Our Lord s question had for object to–
(a) show His compassion.
(6) to elicit faith,
(c) to call attention to the gravity of the boy’s condition.
Mar 9:22 And oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into the waters to destroy him. But if thou canst do any thing, help us, having compassion on us.
if thou canst do anything, etc. These words shew that the man’s faith was very weak.
Mar 9:23 And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
Jesus saith to him, If thou canst, etc. A better translation would be, “Jesus said unto him, as for thy,” “if thou canst,” “all things are
possible to him that believeth.” The granting of the grace depended
on the suppliant s faith.
Mar 9:24 And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said: I do believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.
the father …. crying out, with tears said. The man’s tears and
cries shew his earnest desire. He felt the weakness of his own faith ;
he believed, but would fain have a firmer faith.
Mar 9:25 And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, he threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: Deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee, go out of him and enter not any more into him.
when Jesus saw the multitude running together. Apparently Jesus
had spoken to His disciples and the man a little apart; doubtless the
boy’s convulsions would have brought the multitude nearer, to see what was happening.
threatened the unclean spirit: “rebuked” (St Luke). This spirit is
characterised as dumb and unclean. These words shew clearly that the boy was possessed. This is an example of a double cure: of healing, and of possession of the devil.
I command thee. Words of authority. He speaks in His own Name, in virtue of His Divinity,
enter not any more. The child was thus preserved from future possession by this same spirit.
Mar 9:26 And crying out and greatly tearing him, he went our of him. And he became as dead, so that many said: He is dead.
crying out and greatly tearing, etc. Thus the devil shewed his impotent rage at being forced to relinquish his prey.
Mar 9:27 But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up (ηγειρεν = egeiren). And he arose (ἀνίστημι = anistēmi = literally, “he stood up”).
The manual offers no comment on this verse. I would like to note the following:
Taking him by the hand. This phrase is used 3 other times in Mark (Mk 1:31 5:41-42; 8:23). The first 2 uses, like the present verse, are related to the theme of resurrection: “And coming to her, he lifted her up (ἐγείρω = egeirō), taking her by the hand; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.” “And taking the damsel by the hand, he saith to her: Talitha cumi, which is, being interpreted: Damsel (I say to thee) arise (ἐγείρω = egeirō). And immediately the damsel rose up (ανεστη = aneste, from anistēmi)”
Mar 9:28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples secretly asked him: Why could not we cast him out?
his disciples secretly asked him. Naturally they felt the humiliation of having failed to cast out the evil spirit, and especially as their failure was witnessed by the Scribes, and they knew not to what it was to be attributed, since, hitherto, the devils had been subject to them. Only nine of the Apostles asked this question.
Mar 9:29 And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
he said to them, etc. St Matthew gives a longer answer, Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence thither, and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible to you (Mt 17:19).
This kind. Particular kind of demon. As there are angels of different degrees of power and glory, so there are some demons who surpass their companions in wickedness, strength, and intelligence.
prayer and fasting. Some MSS. omit these words, but they are found in the greater number. Fasting was required to add intensity to prayer, and Origen says it should be practised both by the one possessed and by the exorcist. “The demoniac living luxuriously cannot be delivered from such madness.” (St Chrysoslom.) The exorcist should fast that he may first conquer his own inordinate passions before attacking God’s enemies, the devils. Prayer and fasting predispose man to receive graces from God