28 June 2009. 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 1, 13-15; 2, 23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Cor 8, 7-15; Mark 5, 21-43
In an age of pandemics such as the influenza A(H1N1) virus, today we hear of healing when it is most appropriate. In the Gospel, Jesus encounters two women: the daughter of Jairus and the woman with a hemorrhage. Both stories have someone seeking out Jesus. Jairus, the synagogue official, seeks Jesus’ healing touch for his daughter. In the story of the woman with a hemorrhage, she herself looks for Jesus. The synagogue official continues to trust Jesus even when news about his daughter’s death reached him. Likewise, despite her fear, the woman desires to touch even a piece of Jesus’ clothing hoping for healing.
How then should we heal? Let us pick up bits and pieces of the story. First, there is a clear desire for Jesus to heal those who are sick or to restore to health those who are dying. In situations of illness, the first thing is to have a great trust in the Lord; a confidence that God desires to make us whole again. The first reading from Wisdom says that “God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living… He made us imperishable.” If we want to be healed of any form of sickness, or if we desire to heal others, we have to believe that illness is not of God. So if it would be possible for us to prevent, protect or cure, the very act of healing is God’s act. With the number of cases of A(H1N1), one way to regard prevention methods is to see it as an act of charity. Hygiene is not just about ourselves; it is also about others. Taking responsibility by following quarantine measures when manifesting symptoms is an act of concern and love: you preserve the life of others.
Second, there is a strong motivation and desire that we want to be healed. Desire counts a lot in many people who recovered. Studies according to a Time Magazine article now show the relationship between faith and healing; that recovery can be speed up by prayer. In the Gospel, desire can either come from the very sick or from someone who loves. In the story of the paralytic, his cure is attributed to his friends who lowered him down from the roof. It is not uncommon for us to pray for those who are afflicted whether physically, emotionally and spirituality. Thus, Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage approach Jesus, moved by their desire for healing.
Third, take your medicine. Faith and medicine are complimentary. Jesus himself acknowledge the role of doctors. They are at the service of those who are sick. Jesus says that “Doctors minister not to the well, but to the sick; I came not for the righteous, but for sinners.” It is the doctor’s job to minister to afflicted. St. Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, was a doctor too. By taking our medicines, we are able to participate in God’s act of making us whole again.
Finally, we are reminded of the power of human touch and affection. Just as Jesus healed by touch, we too are able to heal by showing our tender loving care. From babies to the aged, the need to feel loved palpably cannot be ignored. Research from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, tells us that human touch, the non-sexual and supportive kind, tempers stress and blood pressure. Psychology has it that we need five affirmations a day to remain healthy in body, mind and spirit. Therefore, it is no wonder that one of the eight corporal works of mercy is to visit the sick. And by extension the creative means we do to get another spring to life such as our get-well-soon cards, texts with warm and affective messages, and flowers sent from friends and family. The need for human affection is all too clear when I asked students: Why don’t you want to be quarantined when you will be on vacation for 10 days? They said, “because we will be away from every body else.” Affection connects us; sharing the life energy that heals us all.