Gospel of Mark Ch.9:29/28


I am wondering why in the Gospel of Mark chapter 9 it tells the story of man with a dumb spirit. The apostles or disciples were unable to cast out the spirit and asked Jesus why the were unable. In the lectionary it gives jesus’ as “this kind can only be cast out by prayer.” With that version being read, basically every year before lent or at the beginning of lent. How were the apostles/disciples trying to cast the dumb spirit out?
In the Douay Rheims version it says that “this kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.” Seems to me that changes the reason the apostles/disciples were unsuccessful.


Here is the story in the bible.
“And one of the multitude, answering, said: Master, I have brought my son to thee, having a dumb spirit. 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. Who answering them, said: O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 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. And he asked his father: How long time is it since this hath happened unto him? But he said: From his infancy: And oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But if thou canst do any thing, help us, having compassion on us. And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said: I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief. 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. And crying out, and greatly tearing him, he went out of him, and he became as dead, so that many said: He is dead. But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples secretly asked him: Why could not we cast him out? And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” Mark 9:16-28

I think its about faith. The disciples were still building their faith, and did not have enough for this job.

So Jesus recommends prayer, fasting to help build faith.


That may be the reason. But, you would never know that fasting was part of the remedy since the last two words are always left out. Thinking about it, it almost seems deliberate. Leaving out two words and putting a period at the end. Who made that call?


I agree, it was about faith. Another translation has “O faithless generation” instead of “O incredulous generation”


Mass readings are based on a different lectionary that is not taken direct from Scriptures. The case you cite illustrates the risk in that. Perhaps its compilers disbelieved in the efficacy of fasting and daren’t risk recommending anyone fast.

(I’ve never formally fasted, myself - we just weren’t that close to the Church and neither was anyone we mixed with. Some days I have two meals rather than three and I find that sufficiently practical. I pray when I remember to pray.)


This Gospel story was mentioned in spiritual book that I was reading (I cannot remember if it was from Mother Angelica or Matthew Kelly). The author pointed out that, since demons can represent our sins and interior vices rather than literal demonic possessions, Jesus’ remark that “this can only be cast out by prayer and fasting” is meant to teach us that, in order to break free from our sins and overcome our temptations, we must pray for God’s strength and mortify ourselves with fasting.

May God bless you all! :slight_smile:


The lectionary readings aren’t intended to be a Bible study. It isn’t necessary to read whole passages/all the words in the Mass readings. The Church certainly knows the word fasting is there, she merely sees fit to leave it out for certain Mass readings.

Words/verses/passages are omitted in the Mass readings for the very simple reason that those omitted words/verses/passages aren’t necessary for the “theme” of the Mass being offered that day–the omitted words might draw people’s attention onto another topic–one that might divert attention from the major theme of the day.

There’s not a conspiracy to keep the whole of the Bible from us, or anything like that, if that is your concern. Any Catholic may read any Scripture passage in full at any time for his own edification. And the homilist is completely free to mention more of the passage from the Mass readings or any other part of Scripture he sees fit, so really, this is a non-issue. :slight_smile:


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