“O faithless and perverse generation” (Luke 9:37-43)

Detail from La Trasfigurazione, Rafael (1518-1520)
Detail from La Trasfigurazione, Rafael (1518-1520)

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῇ ἑξῆς ἡμέρᾳ, κατελθόντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄρους, συνήντησεν αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολύς.Καὶ ἰδού, ἀνὴρ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου ἀνεβόησεν, λέγων, Διδάσκαλε, δέομαί σου, ἐπιβλέψαι ἐπὶ τὸν υἱόν μου, ὅτι μονογενής ἐστίν μοι·καὶ ἰδού, πνεῦμα λαμβάνει αὐτόν, καὶ ἐξαίφνης κράζει, καὶ σπαράσσει αὐτὸν μετὰ ἀφροῦ, καὶ μόγις ἀποχωρεῖ ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ, συντρῖβον αὐτόν.Καὶ ἐδεήθην τῶν μαθητῶν σου ἵνα ἐκβάλωσιν αὐτό, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν.Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, Ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη, ἕως πότε ἔσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν; Προσάγαγε τὸν υἱόν σου ὧδε.Ἔτι δὲ προσερχομένου αὐτοῦ, ἔρρηξεν αὐτὸν τὸ δαιμόνιον καὶ συνεσπάραξεν· ἐπετίμησεν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ, καὶ ἰάσατο τὸν παῖδα, καὶ ἀπέδωκεν αὐτὸν τῷ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ.Ἐξεπλήσσοντο δὲ πάντες ἐπὶ τῇ μεγαλειότητι τοῦ θεοῦ. Πάντων δὲ θαυμαζόντων ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, εἶπεν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ,

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him.And behold, a man from the crowd cried, “Teacher, I beg you to look upon my son, for he is my only child; and behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him till he foams, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here. While he was coming, the demon tore him and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.

And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

Luke 9:37-43, Revised Standard Version

 


9:37-43

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This man was exceedingly faithless. And for this reason the demon did not depart from his child, the unbelief overcoming the power of the apostles. Even now the man brazenly displays his unbelief, approaching the Lord in the presence of all to accuse His disciples. But the Lord shows him that his unbelief caused the child not to be healed, and He in turn rebukes him in the presence of all, and not only him, but all the others with him as well. When He says, O faithless generation, He includes all the Jews. The word perverse [διεστραμμένη] indicates that their wickedness is neither from the beginning nor by their nature. By nature they were upright, for the seed of Abraham and Isaac was holy But they had been turned and twisted by evil. The Lord’s words, How long shall I be with you, and endure you? show that He hungered fro death and that He wished to be freed from them quickly. He is saying, therefore, “How long shall I endure your unbelief?” Then, to show that He has the power to vanquish the unbelief of the Jews, He says, Bring your son here And He healed the boy and gave him back to his father. Prior to this the demonized child was not his father’s, but belonged to the evil spirit which possessed him. The Lord gives him back to his father, who had lost the boy and has now found him.

Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid (11th c.), The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke

 

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After coming down from the mount of the Transfiguration, the Lord healed a youth possessed by a devil. The healing was preceded by a reproach for unbelief, which was the reason that the unfortunate one had not been healed by the disciples. Whoever’s unbelief this was – whether of the father who brought his son, of the people who gathered together, or perhaps of the Apostles – it is evident that unbelief closes the doors to God’s merciful intercession and help, whereas faith opens it. The Lord even said to the father, “As much as you can believe, so much will you receive.” (cf. Mark 9:23). When it regards a person, faith is not a matter of thought and mind alone, but embraces the entire essence of the man. It consists of the mutual obligations of the believer and the one in whom he believes, though these might not be expressed literally. He who believes counts on the one he believes in for everything, and does not expect a refusal from him in anything. That is why he turns to him with undivided thought, as to a father, and goes to him as to his treasury, assured that he will not return empty. Such an attitude, without words, inclines the one toward whom this attitude is held. This is how it is among people. But the power of such dispositions is truly manifest when they are directed toward the Lord, Who is almighty, omniscient, and desires to give us every good; and a true believer’s expectations are never betrayed. If we do not have something, and do not receive it when we ask for it, it is because we do not have the proper faith. First and foremost we must seek and introduce into our heart complete faith in the Lord. We must seek and obtain it of Him through our entreaties, for it does not come from us, but is God’s gift. When faith was required of the father of the youth, he implored, Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief (Mark 9:24). He weakly believed, wavering, and he prayed for the strengthening of his faith. But who can boast of perfect faith, and who therefore does not need to pray, “Help, O Lord, my unbelief”? If only the full force of faith were in us, our thoughts would be pure, our feelings holy, and our deeds God-pleasing, Then the Lord would heed us like a father his children, and no matter what came to our heart – and what comes to a person in this sense can only be pleasing to the Lord – we would receive everything without refusal or delay.

St. Theophan the Recluse (19th c.), Thoughts for Each Day of the Year


9:41 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, Ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη, ἕως πότε ἔσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν; Προσάγαγε τὸν υἱόν σου ὧδε.

Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”

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It was the duty of the father of the lad to lay the blame upon his own unbelief, rather than upon the holy apostles. For this reason Christ justly called out, ‘O unbelieving and wayward generation, until when shall I be with you and bear with you?’ Thus He justly calls both the man himself and those of like mind a wayward generation. Therefore, the Scripture says of such persons that their paths are crooked and their courses bent [Proverbs 2:15]. From this malady David fled, saying, ‘A crooked heart hath not cleaved unto me (Psalm 100:4 LXX).’ To such the blessed Forerunner cried, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; be making His paths straight [Matthew 3:3]’. The man, therefore, was thoroughly an unbeliever, and perverse, refusing the straight paths, straying from the mark, and wandering from right ways … For he who says that those (apostles) were powerless for the expulsion of evil spirits, who by Christ’s will had received power to cast them out, finds fault with the grace itself, rather than with the receivers of it. It was wicked blasphemy … Thus Christ is angry when wrong is done to the holy preachers.

St. Cyril of Alexandria (5th c.), Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Homily 52

 

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