Friday, February 11, 2011

Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

(Genesis 3:1-8; Mark 7:31-37)

The surgeon came to see the patient with a broken femur. He brusquely maneuvered the injured leg and asked if the patient felt any pain. There wasn’t any. The doctor knew his craft. His colleague would mend the bone with a metal plate. The patient would be told that he would never have to look at the scar to determine which leg had been broken, but that did not turn out to be the case. Within two years he could feel no difference between his two legs.

Jesus acts like the surgeon in the gospel reading. He fingers the deaf man’s ears and spits on his hampered tongue as a kind of therapy. Perhaps he entreats his Father when he looks up to heaven, but there is a sense that he has mastered the art of healing. In any event, the man’s defects are corrected; he can hear Jesus’ voice and thank him for the act of mercy.

Because of the many cures witnessed at Lourdes over the last century and a half, sick Catholics flock there for healing around the anniversary of the first appearance of our Lady. It is said that a communal faith is felt among the pilgrims that overshadows personal desire for relief. Most people return home with their ailments unassuaged but at the same time supremely uplifted. Jesus has touched them. They can now endure the pains of illness and even face the terror of death. He has made them all right.