June 30, Healing

Today’s Gospel Story (Mk 5:21-43) is really two stories about healing on several levels. Both stories show Jesus was very much involved in healing, and reached out to individuals who asked his help. Every one of us has some sense of sorrow, a sort of personal suffering in our life. It’s just part of being human. In some way we want to be healed. We have our own idea what this means, and it is worthwhile to look at what we want, and what it will feel like when we are healed. Sometimes it is a long process, and often involves our growing in some way or part of our life.

While Jesus is on his way to heal the daughter of a synagogue leader, a woman who has been suffering with a hemorrhage for twelve years pushes her way through the crowd just to touch his clothes so she can be healed. This Story can be powerful for me in my own everyday living if I let it. The woman had been bleeding for 12 years. In the eyes of the temple religious system she is ritually unclean. She has to stay away from other people, and any who come in contact with her are also ritually unclean — another indication that the laws of a religious system often have little to do with God and more to do with keeping things neat and orderly, the people in line, and those in power feeling strong and secure. It doesn’t take much imagination to see similarities in our own day, where people created in Abba’s image are declared by some religious systems and their self-appointed enforcers to be in sin, and are to be kept away from a system’s version of God. Jesus stops what he Is doing, gives the woman his full attention, and heals her. Even though she is ritually unclean and an outcast, loves her, saying in effect, “you are not unclean for me or for Abba, and we love you as you are”. He tells her simply to have faith, to trust in him, and just ignore what others say about her. He does not tell her to change in any way, only to believe and go where this takes her, no matter who tells her how wrong she is. 

The woman reaches out to Jesus as he is on the way to heal somebody else. God often happens as we’re doing something else. That’s certainly true in my case, but I usually don’t realize it until later. I can choose to be open to this, or I can insist on my ways and my priorities, and so miss out on a lot. It doesn’t take much to “mess things up” if that is my perspective. Often I’m roaring down the track at a very high speed and somebody jumps in front of the train and says, in effect, “I need your attention right now”. I’m not good at responding to the person as Jesus was, and later I often wonder whom I have hurt by diminishing them, not giving them my needed attention. Perhaps I need my own healing here, but it can’t be on my terms. I certainly need some kind of a change of attitude. “If I can but touch the hem of his clothes .  .  .” He tells me too, “don’t be afraid, just trust in me”. Not always easy, but this is what he is asking me to do. I know that when I have moved in this direction it has been good, and when I’ve done it my way, not so much. Working with this is an opportunity to go deeper in my relationship with Abba, with Jesus, with the Spirit, if that is what I choose to do. This is never forced on me, but is always a matter of my freely accepting and working towards it, going where this takes me.

There is a wisdom to growing “old and wise”, probably because God is with us when we’re “young and dumb”. There is no doubt our values change as we grow older. Hard to put into words what this experience is like. I am fortunate to live with amazing senior citizens (I’m one of the youngsters) who have lived amazing lives, have a wealth of experience, richness, hard times, been through the school of hard knocks. Our collective attitude is bright and uplifting. We live with each other, enjoy each other’s good times, and support each other in our challenging times, our version of the Gospel happening in ordinary everyday living. I am grateful to be with all of these good people.

These days we are surrounded by much hopelessness and negativity on many fronts which give rise to frustration, fear, violence, not to mention the frenetic screaming chaos. Somehow Abba is in all this. There are signs of hope all around, but they can be missed or ignored because they’re not what I expect. Individual people and communities courageously are choosing to live the gospel however they hear the call, being ministers of gospel healing. 

What does it mean for me right now, in the midst of all the stuff, simply to simply, to trust, to act? This is getting to be a very difficult journey which my faith tells me I’m not making alone. I feel a bit like the woman in the story struggling to make her way through the crowd to touch Jesus. I need some silence in my life to be in awe of all that is going on around me, even in me. While I need to be aware of the noise, I can’t let it in or I will become part of the problem. I need some healing myself so I can be an occasion of healing for others and not get in their way. I cannot let myself see anybody as an interruption just because they “upset” what I want at the time. It’s not about me. It’s about Abba happening in everybody, including me, always, and my focus is on being open and wondering, always trusting, or trying to. 

I’m most grateful for my heart attack in the car experience, which which continues to offer a depth, breadth, and richness to life the I would never have imagined, I am part of  goodness happening that is much bigger than I, and it’s all right here and now. There is so much more very real all around me, perhaps not explainable, but definitely real and experienced. I wouldn’t change a thing. Just sayin . . .