by Father John Cush
I have to admit that I hate going to the doctor. I am the very worst type of patient. One might describe me as a doctor’s nightmare. I am the living epitome of the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Armed with the Internet and with watching too many medical dramas on television, at the first sign of an illness, I suddenly become a combination of Dr. House and Dr. Welby. When I finally get the courage to go to the doctor, fueled usually by a combination of fear and exhaustion, I expect the worst and, thanks be to God, I am usually wrong. Usually, it takes my family and friends to actually get me to go to the doctor!
In today’s Gospel, taken from the Evangelist Mark, we see the divine physician, Jesus Christ, our Lord, in action. Jesus heals not only one but two people from their illnesses, thus revealing Himself a little bit more to be the Messiah as well as engendering faith in the crowds who watch these two healings.
In the healing of the daughter of the synagogue official, Jarius’ daughter, we see a tremendous event: Christ raises this child from her illness unto death. Jarius goes to the Lord to ask for the healing of his daughter. In the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage for 12 years, we see that the Lord’s very presence, a mere casual encounter is enough for healing for the one who has faith. The woman brings herself to Jesus and experiences his healing.
Notice that in the first case, someone has to bring Jesus to the sick in order to effect the healing. Jarius goes and seeks the Lord, not for himself, but for his poor, sick daughter. In the second case, the woman with the hemorrhage actually gets the courage to go to the Lord for her cure.
Both bringing someone to Jesus as well as bringing ourselves to Jesus are essential aspects of a mature spiritual life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, whose publication was now almost 20 years ago and which stills remains exactly what Blessed John Paul II describes it – “a sure norm for teaching the faith” – describes both of these aspects in its section on prayer.
In the Catechism, part four, section three, chapter one, article three, numbers 2324-2326, we hear about the power of intercessory prayer. We learn that intercessory prayer permits us to pray as Jesus does. When we go to the Lord, through the power and gift of intercessory prayer, we exercise the priestly power of our baptism. We, each in our own ways, assist the Lord in acting as mediator with him.
We should not be frightened to bring the needs of others before the Lord. We should not fear to lay the needs of others before our good and loving gentle Lord. We should feel free to lay down our burdens on the one who bears the sorrows and the burdens of the whole world, Christ our Lord.
A dear friend who serves as a director of religious education used to say when she would lead prayer at meetings with parents the following beautiful expression of faith: “Give your problems, your fears, your worries, your anxieties to Jesus now. They’ll all still be waiting for you when you leave, but maybe, just maybe they’ll feel a little lighter.”
The key, I think, is found in a simple, short little line found in today’s Gospel from Mark: “Do not be afraid. Just have faith.”
Easy to say, hard to do. Do we believe that Jesus wants to heal us? Do we believe that Jesus loves us enough to help us? Do we believe that we are worthy to be helped by Jesus?
The truth is, Jesus wants to help us; He wants to heal us. It is within his very nature to desire this for us. His name means “God saves” and that is precisely what Jesus does for us. We are, in and of ourselves, not worthy of such great love.
However, we are made worthy, through Him, with Him and in Him. His arms are open wide on the cross in an embrace of love for you and me. He desires only our good.
Who have we brought to Jesus lately? Have we brought ourselves to Jesus, the Doctor of our Souls, lately? The power of intercession, that power that Jesus exhibited in his earthy ministry and that continues now with Him in glory, is shared with us. May we always have the courage to pray for this grace.[hr]Readings for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 1,13-15; 2, 23-24 2
Corinthians 8, 7; 9, 13-15
Mark 5, 21-24,35-43
[hr]Father Cush will begin doctoral studies in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome this fall.[hr]