Mark 9:17

“Teacher,” answered a man in the crowd, “I brought my son to see you, as he has a spirit in him that makes him mute;


where have you been so long
my son is as important to me
as any religious leader’s daughter

I’ve traveled far not just waited
for you to come close to me
and where were you gone

my son my image my beloved
closes down to wilderness silence
a cold choking wind takes him away

I claim a diagnosis to soothe our minds
I demand a cure lest our hearts break
I will pay for this with my life

are we clear it is your reputation
that is on the line with inept disciples
now that you’re back don’t just stand there


A spirit that won’t brook any speaking not only has a personal aspect, as here, but a social one as well. Speech is never free, it always has a consequence.

The same hope that drives someone (mother? father?) to lead their young one to Jesus fills the whole crowd, silenced by the Romans, to see what happens here and then take it to the socio-political level as well.

This story about a child reminds us to look back at Jairus’ daughter. Those shut out of that scene are looking to get a closer peek about technique.

Ultimately there will be as much disappointment in this quest as in the previous one or at the later one with the youth in a tomb. Dealing with spirit is never able to be consolidated into a technique, it remains ever live (reading Jacques Ellul is helpful here).

Waetjen155 has a footnote that includes:

“This spirit appears to be different from the ‘unclean spirits’ or ‘demons.’ It does not cry out Jesus’ identity, as the others did. Unlike the others it may not be generated by institutional realities or systemic structures.

This opens us to seeing this story as more than a healing. The main character is the parent and may assist with the solution Jesus arrives at. As a child can reflect their parent, we could be dealing with that constriction of conscience that keeps us silent when ourselves or others are being harmed and we feel powerless.

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