A few weeks ago, the Gospel reading (Mark 7:31-37) told us a story about how Jesus cured a man who was deaf and could not speak.
When I heard that story that Sunday, I thought, “Jesus could cure anybody right now. He could cure me right now… but he hasn’t. Why haven’t you, God? Why are you waiting for?”
I thought this once more when I was going to bed that night. I started thinking about that man who had been cured… and I thought about how he must have endured suffering for years before that moment Jesus touched him and relieved him of that cross.
And I thought, “Why did you wait until then, God, to heal him?”
The first thought that came to mind was that He waited until that very moment to heal him so that this could become a testimony — a legacy of God’s healing. Even though Jesus told the people He was with not to tell anyone about this, they couldn’t keep it to themselves.
I’m not entirely sure why God waited until that moment to cure this man. I’m not sure why God doesn’t relieve us all of our suffering actually.
But I am sure that there is meaning in every little ounce of it. And I am sure that God wants us to be healed, He wants us to feel relieved and pain-free. He wants us to find solace and comfort in Him.
He wants us to break free from the things that hold us down, that keep us from opening up to Him & from allowing ourselves to be Healed. Because He can Heal. And He can hold our scars in His hand and give them new life — which can and will be beautiful with His breath. And Jesus Christ can do this because of His own scars, His own sufferings.
As Pope Francis said just a few days ago when he visited inmates at a prison in Philadelphia:
“We know in faith that Jesus seeks us out. He wants to heal our wounds, to soothe our feet which hurt from travelling alone, to wash each of us clean of the dust from our journey… He wants to help us to set out again, to resume our journey, to recover our hope, to restore our faith and trust. He wants us to keep walking along the paths of life, to realize that we have a mission…”
Thinking more about this story — when Jesus healed the deaf & mute man, it reminded me about what Mary DeMuth wrote a few weeks ago about another story in Acts (5:17-20).
“The apostles had been arrested and imprisoned (because of jealousy), but God set them free, from caged in a prison, to soaring free to be able go to the temple and share Jesus.
“We all have experienced prison from one time or another.”
She writes of the prison of broken friendship, painful pasts, unmet expectations, strife, apathy, control, and bitterness. These all build walls around our hearts, cut us off from the Life that brings joy and peace.
Her post reminded me of the Gospel reading when this deaf and mute man was healed, because… can you imagine what it must have been like for that man not to be able to hear, not to be able to speak? He must have felt imprisoned himself.
And I am sure that we can all relate in one way or another to what imprisons us — even on a daily basis; whether that’s feeling stuck at home, feeling angry or bitter with an unanswered prayer, or feeling desperate and alone in our suffering.
But, Mary says, we can be set free.
“Do you want to have the shackles of shame, bitterness, control and broken friendships fall away? Do you want to breathe the air of the free, under open, inviting skies? Is the trajectory of your life moving toward prison or emancipation?
“I’m here to say there is hope, hope, hope. And it’s found in Jesus. Settle your worth before Him. Give Him your regrets, hurts, anger, confusion. He sets captives FREE, gloriously free… Prison is not your home. Recognize your freedom, beloved, and live that way.”
I hope that today, you will can feel a little freer of whatever it is that imprisons you.
And, if on the other hand, you know someone who feels imprisoned, I hope and pray that you can encourage, hope and help heal their scars.
“Jesus invites us to share in his lot, his way of living and acting. He teaches us to see the world through his eyes. Eyes which are not scandalized by the dust picked up along the way, but want to cleanse, heal and restore. He asks us to create new opportunities: for inmates, for their families, for correctional authorities, and for society as a whole… All of us have something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from. May the knowledge of that fact inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another and seek the best for others.” (Pope Francis)