“Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed” (Mk 6:56).
The people of Jesus’ time were in need of healing, hungry to draw closer to God, often searching, wandering, and wounded. This is just as true for us today. Though Jesus is not as visible to us as he was to those in the land of Gennesaret, he is just as present if not closer. We who receive Jesus in his Word proclaimed and through his Body and Blood, we who receive his healing, mercy, and grace are sent forth to bring Jesus to others.
We are not to go home as if nothing of any significance just happened in our gathering as the Mystical Body of Christ at Mass. Jesus does not send us to walk around with an air of superiority over others, to judge and condemn people, to refuse to help people because we feel they deserve the condition they are in, that they are illegal, that they chose their lifestyle, that they are lazy and just need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Jesus was and is not indifferent to the plight of others.
Pope Francis was asked in an interview by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., in 2013, “What does the church need most at this historic moment?” And Pope Francis answered, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle.” We need to be “near”, in the same “proximity”, to bear Christ to one another: “The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”
Jesus, please help us to be present, to come near, and bring your love, mercy, forgiveness, and be willing to enter into the chaos of one another. Help us to resist the temptation to keep others at a distance and refuse to be indifferent to the needs of those you bring to us in their time of need. May we too, in the words of Pope Francis, go out to “heal the wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful” by being willing to accompany others in their sorrows, anxiety, trials, and tribulations.
People are really hurting all around us. Help us to let go of the need to fix them or fix their problems. Jesus, help us instead to be present, to listen, to hear, and to be open to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through us at the appropriate time, so that, in the end, we do not prevent people from encountering Jesus, but provide a means for them to encounter the divine physician and be healed..
Photo: Class of 2017 expressing some pre-Covid nearness and proximity!