Monday, February 11, 2013

Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

(Genesis 1:1-19; Mark 6:53-56)

A young man was dying of cancer. When the medical system seemed unable to save him, his mother took him to Lourdes. There they experienced a miracle of sorts. The man died not long afterward their return, but witnessing the faith of so many pilgrims took away both the mother’s and the son’s fear of death. In the gospel Jesus himself provides a similar source of relief.

Jesus does not have to touch those who came to him for healing, let alone pray over them. The text quite clearly says that the people only had to touch “the tassel on his cloak” to be cured. Obviously, the evangelist wants to express the power of Jesus over the forces of destruction.

Today, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is also World Day of the Sick. The sick are invited to both pray to Jesus for physical and spiritual support and to suffer with Jesus for the salvation of others. We might think of our relationship to the sick as having a similar dual character. As Jesus healed their infirmities, we visit the sick in solidarity. And as Jesus was tortured and crucified, we see in the sick his image and offer to them whatever help we can give.