Sunday Scriptures

Exercising the Gift of Intercessory Prayer

By Father John P. Cush, STD

In this Gospel, we encounter the healing power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our Lord heals two women: one older, who was greatly troubled for many years with hemorrhages, and the other is much younger, a girl of 12, on the verge of her teenage years.

Note the way that they encounter the Lord Jesus. In the case of the older woman, she goes to the Him in the hope that merely by touching his cloak, she could be healed. In the case of the 12 year old, it is another, her father, a synagogue official, who comes to the Lord Jesus on her behalf. This can tell us a great deal about the life of prayer. Either we ourselves go to the Lord in prayer or we bring others in prayer to Him.

We can read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the tremendous power of intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer permits us to pray as Jesus does. In our baptism into Christ, we are anointed priest, prophet and king, and are incorporated into His own Body. When we go to the Lord through the power and gift of intercessory prayer, we exercise the priestly power of our baptism. In our own ways, we each assist the Lord in acting as mediator with Him.

It is part and parcel of the Christian life to bring the needs of others before the Lord. We should not fear to lay the needs of others before our good, loving and gentle Lord. We should feel free to lay down our burdens before the One who bears the sorrows and burdens of the whole world.

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.” This is easy to say, but difficult to do.

Do we believe that Jesus wants to heal us? We should because He does!

Do we believe that Jesus loves us enough to help us? We should because He does!

Do we believe that we are worthy to be helped by Jesus? We should because He does!

The truth is, Jesus wants to help us; He wants to heal us. It is within His very nature to desire this for us. Jesus’ 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. Our good and gentle Jesus desires only our good.

So, 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. Let’s never be afraid to use it!

Readings for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 1: 13-15; 2: 23-24
Psalm 30: 2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13
2 Corinthians 8: 7, 9, 13-15
Mark 5: 21-43 or 5:21-24, 35B-43

Father Cush, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, serves as academic dean of the Pontifical North American College, and as a professor of theology and U.S. Catholic Church history.
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