Sunday, February 7th, 2021, Epiphany V, Wounded Healer
ISAIAH 40:21-31, PSALM 147:1-12, 21C, 1 CORINTHIANS 9:16-23, MARK 1:29-39
I cannot help thinking of Henri Neuwen’s story in the “Wounded Healer”, after the verse in the psalm today, He heals the broken hearted *
and binds up their wounds. Psalm147:3
Rabbi Yoshua ben Levi came upon Elijah the prophet while he was standing at the entrance of Rabbi Simeron ben Yohai’s cave… He asked Elijah, “When will the Messiah come?”Elijah replied, “Go and ask him yourself.”
“Where is he?”
“Sitting at the gates of the city.”
“How shall I know him?”
“He is sitting among the poor covered with wounds. The others unbind all their wounds at the same time and then bind them up again. But he unbinds one at a time and binds it up again, saying to himself, ‘Perhaps I shall be needed: if so I must always be ready so as not to delay for a moment.’”
There is a lot to think about in this story, but there may be something for us from the Gospel today……..
Why would Jesus not stay in one place to heal everyone there? The thought is; healing is more than just physical, and the concern is that this will become the only focus, and perhaps more importantly it will foster and encourage a dependency and passivity from those healed and their families.
The question then, is Jesus leaving anything behind, or just going off to the next village? Yes, he has left the Spirit for us but what does that mean? What did Jesus leave behind when he left the disciples and others at that time and also leave behind for us?
There are many ways to look at this, but he left us, Relationship together, pain together, healing together. We in our woundedness can still support and care for others in their woundedness as well.
The Order of the Carmelites in their Lectio Divina on this passage expand on this idea and what Jesus was doing and what he is modeling in this way;
• Jesus restores life for the service. After having participated in the celebration of Saturday in the Synagogue, Jesus went to Peter’s house and cured his mother-in-law. Once healed, she gets up, with her health restored and having recovered her dignity, and she begins to serve. Jesus does not only heal the person, but He does it in such a way that she begins to serve life.
• Jesus accepts the marginalized. When it begins to get dark, in the afternoon, at the end of Saturday when the first star shines in the sky, Jesus accepts and cures the sick and those possessed whom people had brought to Him. The sick and those possessed were the most marginalized people of that time. They had nobody to whom they had recourse. They depended on public charity. Besides this, religion considered them impure. They could not participate in the community. It was as if God rejected and excluded them. Therefore, the Good News of God consists of what He wants to do in the life of people: to accept the marginalized and the excluded, and to insert them again to live together in the community.
• To remain united to the Father, in prayer. Jesus is presented to us while He prays. He makes a great effort to have the time and the adequate environment to pray. He rises before the others and goes to a deserted place, to be able to be alone with God.
This suggests a way of seeing our relationship with others and God, as one of healing for a purpose, and a goal in mind, how to serve in the community, and for care of the marginalized and prayer, intentionally recognizing being in the presence of the divine.
This is not a new idea, but one summarized by the summary of the law (the two commandments), to love God, Neighbour and Self.