6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

02-11-2024Weekly Reflection©LPi — Father John Muir

Recently I had a skin rash, and it was awful. (Please don’t tell anyone.) I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t handle it well. Complaining, whining, begging for sympathy, and crying were my responses to the merciless itching and burning. In the aftermath, a silver lining emerged. I feel a new heartfelt sympathy for all those vexed with chronic skin problems. If you’ve ever had a seemingly unending skin problem, you know how that sympathy flows up from deep inside.

This gut level compassion is something like what the Gospel describes in Jesus when the sore covered leper says, “If you will it, you can make me clean.” At this, just before the healing, Jesus was “moved with compassion.” The Greek word used here is strong and earthy, closer to “his bowels and guts trembled with the deepest emotions of sadness, pity, and love.” In Jesus, God heals our infirmities not from a divine distance but by learning what it feels like to be us. He acquires firsthand experience of what it costs us to be afflicted and still be faithful to God. He sympathizes with the burning, itching, and blistering of human existence in the deepest, firsthand way. To discover that is to touch Jesus’ heart.

What in your life, right now, is breaking out like diseased skin? What is getting worse the more you try to soothe it? Perhaps only you feel it. Or maybe it’s exposed to all. A bad habit, broken relationship, loneliness, fear of failure, self hatred? Name it, and then find a way to bring it confidently to Jesus who will feel what we are feeling, and thereby heal us.