In today’s Gospel, Jesus cures the man with the withered hand. This Gospel is really not about the man with the withered hand. The real subject matter of this passage is us.
Fr. Richard Rohr is fond of saying that we all have some suffering / affliction that needs to be cured and healed – whether it be in body, mind, heart or soul.
We all have some part of us that has become withered. In other words, we all have something that has become weak, dried up, wasted or decayed. Or, we all have some situation that is a source of chronic distress.
Regardless, today’s Gospel invites us to be brutally honest. We are encouraged to name and to identify the afflictions within us that require restoring. Like the man with the withered hand, when troubles come, let us come forward and stand before God. The message is that when we experience hardships and difficulties, let’s not be afraid to let God see what is really there. We need to tell God exactly what is going on and invite him to deal with that.
Regardless of what we see in our life – anger, bitterness, doubt, loneliness, rejection, grief; the bottom line is to bring everything constantly to God. When challenges come (health issues, financial issues, relationship issues, addictions, etc.), God does not want us to hide from him. We ought to let God take over those areas where we feel helpless and powerless.
Both today’s Gospel and tomorrow’s Gospel make it clear that Christ has divine power over our afflictions – whether they are on the outside or the inside. The call is to have the courage to rely on God’s divine power in all things and allow his strength to take possession of us.
I want to take a few moments to focus on physical suffering. If we experience pain and suffering dealing with our body, let’s not lose sight of the fact that today’s Gospel involves a physical healing. Jesus miraculously cures this man of a physical impairment. Jesus is stronger than any disease, illness, or bodily weakness.
Today’s Gospel encourages us to go to the Lord and ask specifically for a physical healing for whatever affliction, adversity or suffering that we are facing. Miracles of physical healing still take place in the life of the church. Regardless of the circumstances, we ought never to give up on praying for physical healing!
At one point, you may go the Lord and say: “I trusted. I had faith. I prayed for a healing. Nothing happened. In fact, my suffering is worse.” God works in different ways. It may not be in the way we expect or the way we want.
God’s response is always “tailor-made” to suit an individual’s particular needs. God is in our corner. One can expect God to give exactly what is needed at that moment for the greater good of the whole person – not just 1 aspect of the person.
For example, if a physical healing does not happen, we may get a more needed healing. The healing we really need may be mental, psychological, emotional, relational, moral or spiritual. We can always be sure of this: God’s response to us is always complete and total.
To say “Jesus is healer” is to have faith. To say, “Jesus is my healer” is to have deeper, more intimate faith. Jesus is inviting each of us this afternoon to trust that he is our personal healer. Jesus knows exactly the type of healing we need, where we need healing and when we need healing. Let’s not forget that God loves us perfectly. There are no mistakes in his loving. God only acts with our greatest good in mind.
In a few moments, the same Jesus that the man with the withered hand met in the synagogue is here on this altar. When we receive holy Communion or when we make an act of spiritual communion, that same Jesus will come to us with the fullness of his healing power and be at work in our lives.
As our Eucharist continues, let us ask Jesus to help us to be like the man with the withered hand – to stretch out our hand to him and to say, “I am in trouble. There is no one else I can turn to. I need you. Please help me”. And, of course, this heartfelt prayer is the one that he will always answer as he sees fit and for our greater good.
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
January 20, 2021