Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes
(Genesis 1:1-19; Mark 6:53-56)
Every year eight million people visit the town of Lourdes in southern France. Most go to be healed of some malady or to pray for another who is sick. The water from the spring at the site of Our Lady’s appearance to St. Bernadette has shown to be especially curative. Pilgrims drink the water and fill bottles with it to be taken home. Many take baths in the pools. They are immersed a few seconds and emerge healed either spiritually or physically. The custom can be compared with one noted in today’s gospel.
The reading tells how the sick beg Jesus to touch one of his tassels. The practice sounds superstitious but actually expresses great faith. Jews are required by the Law to wear tassels. Jesus, known as a holy man, keeps that precept and the whole Law in both spirit and letter. By touching one of his tassels, a person manifests her own acceptance of God’s will. This in turn puts the person in God’s favor. If she is sick, she can expect some kind of healing.
Tassels serve Jews in a way not at all unlike how the sacraments serve us. They put us in touch with the Holy One whose power created the universe. Submitting our will to His, we too will be healed of our ailments.