Does this hurt?

September 9th Sunday Readings.

Whenever my kids get a minor bump or bruise and they are crying hurt, I have brian-patrick-tagalog-681929-unsplasha particular ritual that I go through to help them. It starts by having them sit down and put their injured limb up on the couch or chair in a unnaturally high way so I can get a better look. Then I examine the affected area. Next I start to poke and prod the clearly unaffected areas while I ask, “Does that hurt?” To which they usually answer a tearful but confused, “No.” Finally I ask them to show me where it hurts and I make a face like I finally see the real problem and give them a remedy of icepack, bandaid, or smooch (depending, of course).

This is all theater. I have virtually no medical training and have no idea what I am looking at. I am 100% sure my older children know that, but still allow for this farce because it seems to work. Somehow by the time I am done with my very serious and very scientific examination, most bumps and bruises feel better, tears have dried, and my kids are ready to get back to it. 

In our gospel this coming Sunday, Jesus is summoned to examine a man who the scriptures call deaf with a speech impediment. Jesus seems to go through a procedure about as effective as my examination except by the time Jesus is done sticking his fingers in the man’s ears, spiting and touching his tongue, and finally crying “BE OPEN!”, the man can hear and speak. The man is healed.

If you or I did the same procedure, I assure you nothing would happen. Why does what Jesus does heal this man? Clearly it’s because it was Jesus who did it!

Jesus has the power to heal our deepest injury. Jesus as the ability to restore our brokenness to the point where we don’t appear to ever have been broken at all. Jesus can save even the most abandoned places in your life. The gospel tells us a couple things about how this works if pay attention.

First, we can ask for healing. In fact, in this story the deaf man begs and his friends beg that Jesus lay his hands on him. When was the last time you asked Jesus to heal your inner brokenness? 

Secondly, Jesus might not heal you in the way you think. Things might get weird before they get good. Jesus will get all up in your face, literally in the gospel, in order to heal you. And Jesus is going to stick his fingers where you would rather they not go. The only way for this to work is to be docile and let Jesus heal. 

marcelo-leal-664865-unsplashThird, when Jesus has healed you the appropriate response is to be astonished. We read in the gospels that Mary is continually astonished by Jesus. She fully knows who Jesus is, but she is astonished because encountering God is astonishing, amazing, and dazzling.

It’s okay to be wowed by God. It doesn’t mean you’re dumb or unsophisticated; it means you actually understand what God has done for you. 

Jesus is asking you where it hurts. Show him. Let him heal you. 

LIVE IT:
Right now, stop and tell God where there is pain in your life. Sometimes that pain is within. Sometimes it is in relationships in our life. If it is something you’ve done, then go to Confession. I promise you’ll find healing there. 

 

On my own!

May 13th Sunday Readings.

“NO! I want to do it on my own!” Could very well be the motto of 4 year olds everywhere. child-542146_1280If you’ve ever tried to tie the shoelaces or put on an inside out coat of a 4 year old then you know what is like to be denied the ability to help. Just a little bit of learning and competency seems to embolden preschoolers maybe past their true ability. 

Of course, the same is true of us. A little bit of success in loving well or practicing faith and most of us are quick to say to Jesus, “Lord don’t worry, I’ve got this.” In my experience, that phrase whether uttered explicitly or lived implicitly always directly precedes a spiritually humbling moment which reminds me of my need for a savior. 

Mark’s gospel tells us this Sunday about Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples to go out and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. This call extends to all of us. We are all invited to renew our efforts to spread goodness, love, and joy that can only truly be found in and through Jesus. If each new generation is a new continent to be evangelized, we still have much to do. 

After Jesus ascends the gospel says that the disciples went out to preach and scripture says, “…while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.” I love this line. “The Lord worked with them.” The reality is that all that we do that is good and righteous, we do with God. Our actions cooperate with God’s work. And God works with us. 

Following Jesus Christ and inviting others to know Jesus is hard work. Maybe as hard or harder than fine motor skills for a preschooler. The good news is that we don’t do it on our own. The Lord works with us. Don’t try to go alone. Let God help. 

Live It:

Make your first prayer today, “Lord help me to pray.” Make your second prayer, “Lord work with me today.” 

Jesus, HELP! Prayers from the top of the play set.

The Good Word for Oct. 25th ~ for the complete Sunday readings click here. 

Have you ever had to call out for help? I have a 6 year old who loves our backyard refurbished-backyard-adventures-playset-fullplay set. She doesn’t always use the hanging rings or swing or ladder in the way they were intended. Every now and again she gets herself stuck. Usually this means she is hanging upside down with a foot wedged somewhere and she can’t quite figure out how to get down with out landing on her head. It’s then, when she knows she needs help, that she yells for help.

In the gospel today, when Bartimeaus hears that Jesus is near, he cries out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Bartimaeus needs help. He knows that he is stuck in his current situation and calls out for help because he really believes that Jesus will help him.

The difference between Bartimaeus and my daughter’s cry for help is that my daughter knows what I am going to do for her. She knows I will hold her up, help her get un-stuck, and lower her down without her getting hurt. But when Bartimaeus calls out for Jesus he does so trusting that Jesus will do something for him, but he doesn’t really know what.

For me the lesson is that when we call out to Jesus, open to whatever he is willing to do for us, great things can happen – maybe even greater than we imagine in the first place. And our cry doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be the right incantation of words as if prayer is a magic spell. Prayer is as simple as calling out Jesus’ name and waiting in hope for his answer.

When was the last time you cried out to Jesus? Are there people or pressures in your life telling you to be quiet and stay in your place? What do you want God to do for you?

No matter what is going on in your life right now; whether you feel like you are blindly moving forward, barely surviving each day or you feel like you have everything under control, God wants to help you see better than you do right now. Cry out to him. Call Jesus and he will come near.

Live It:
Next time you are alone, find some silence, and say out loud, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And then listen.