Have you ever stood by helplessly when someone was crying out for help? Or arrived too late to really be of assistance to a friend? Or sat at the bedside of a loved one in vigil as they waited for the arrival of the Lord to take them home?
Situations like these can make us feel helpless or insecure. We can wonder how our belief is able to make sense of this moment of sorrow and powerlessness before forces greater than we. I’ve been wondering about these things lately myself as I reached out to a teenager whose classmate had been murdered. What could I say that could bring comfort to a broken heart? Saying “I’ll pray for you” seems too safe. Saying “I’ll pray with you” seems too scary. But I decided to try it anyway, and I discovered that is what people really desire. They’re hoping someone will bring them to Jesus.
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
In this Gospel, we observe that as soon as he enters the house of Simon and Andrew, people tell Jesus that Simon’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever. He approaches her, helps her up and heals her.
In the evening, everyone in town comes to see Jesus. We can imagine their hope as they bring their ill or possessed family members and neighbors, crying out to Jesus to please heal them. We can almost see and hear the compassion and goodness in his voice and gestures as his mercy reaches out to them. His heart is so moved with love that he cures many people suffering from various diseases and drives out many demons.
The following morning, Jesus’ compassion leads him to travel to other villages, to preach in those places too. His ministry was not limited to physical healings but was extended to the spiritual.
Familiar with Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels, we recognize that he instructed and offered guidance and hope to those suffering from confusion, ignorance, sinful behavior, disillusionment, and anguish of heart. Jesus’ words were grace-filled and effective. They reached the minds and hearts of his listeners and bore fruit. People’s lives were changed by the preaching of Jesus. This may have happened quickly or been more gradual, but it happened.
As we ponder Jesus’ compassion in action, we might ask ourselves “What do we need healed?” Are we experiencing weakness or some affliction of body or spirit? Are we ignorant or confused? Are we having a hard time overcoming sinful behavior? Are we discouraged? In what way do we need Jesus to approach and help us up?
We turn to him with trust and hope, knowing that we can always count on Jesus’ compassion. He continues to instruct and heal, and he wills to do this for us today. Let us pause to identify what help we need today and present this to Jesus.
Sr. Kathryn James, FSP
Explore the reflections on the Gospels by the Daughters of St. Paul in Ordinary Time: Weeks 1 – 17.