By Debbonnaire Kovacs, Feb 4, 2016
I can’t possibly express how frustrated and frightened I was. In the first place, only a parent who has been through something like it can understand what it feels like to have a beloved child sick beyond any human power to help. It’s worse when it’s an only child.
Or perhaps not. I can’t imagine being any less distraught over Lemuel’s condition, even if I had ten healthy sons.
He is possessed by a demon. The rabbi says it’s our fault—or Lemuel’s. That somehow, we have displeased the Holy One. But I have given every sacrifice I can scrape together. My wife and I have fasted and prayed for hours and days.
Nothing. The demon seizes him, and he screams. He foams at the mouth. It mauls him and throws him about. It’s getting worse and worse as Lemuel grows older. Now, the demon hardly leaves him alone, day or night.
My child is going to die.
Unless…unless my last, final, most desperate prayer is answered. I have heard of the healer of Galilee. He is here, near Jerusalem. Bringing my son, stopping and trying to keep him from injuring himself during every fit, I have sought and searched until I found Jesus—or found his followers, anyway. They were at the foot of a mountain, and said Jesus and his inner circle of three disciples were up there, and the rest were waiting.
“Well, then, can you heal him?” I begged. “I have heard that you do miracles, too!” I showed them my son, who fell into a seizure right then and there.
The disciples looked at each other, and one came forward and prayed over my boy. But nothing happened.
Another laid a hand on his head, and said, “Demon, be gone!”
The paroxysm ended. I held my breath. The followers, not to mention a gathering crowd of onlookers, held theirs, too. Just as I was opening my mouth to praise God and thank the men, Lemuel fell into another fit, worse than the one before.
I am not ashamed to admit I have fallen into something of a fit of my own. Weeping in rage and fear, I am about to climb up the hillside and force my way into the healer’s presence, but sudden silence falls on the murmuring people nearby.
I turn, dashing tears from my eyes, and there is a man. He is moving unhurriedly toward us, his three friends behind, and people are falling back as if in the presence of royalty.
I catch my breath and rub my eyes again. He seems…there is something about him…unbidden, the story of Moses veiling his face because of its glow pops into my mind. I don’t know why; this man is not glowing…and yet…
He stops before me. As if I can’t help myself, I cry out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child!” I babble out the same story I told the others, who are now hanging back a little, as if they are ashamed. “Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”
Jesus looks from me to his other followers, and sighs in what seems like weariness. I am taken aback when he says, (maybe not to me, but I’m not sure), “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you?”
He looks at me and I do see gentleness in his eyes. “Bring your son here,” he says quietly. I motion to Lemuel, and he starts forward, only to fall into yet another spell. I am crying again. What if this is life, while my son lives? What if he cannot be healed?
Jesus’ voice startles me. There is a tone in it that I did not hear even in his rebuke a moment ago. I would not want to be on the receiving end of that voice. It’s not loud. Just…just sky-splitting.
Lemuel stops shaking.
I stop breathing.
My son raises his head, and looks at his healer. Jesus smiles and holds out a hand, pulling Lemuel to his feet. And gives him back to me. I don’t know how else to put it. This, my son, was lost and is found. Was dead and is alive. He looks at me with the bright eyes of his childhood.
I look at Jesus, and…well, I hope he doesn’t mind. Over the shoulder of my son, who is hugging me as hard as I am hugging him, I am weeping again.