Daily Reflection
February 11th, 2000
John Horn, S.J.
Institute for Priestly Formation
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
1 Kings 11:29-32; 12:19
Psalms 81:10-15
Mark 7:31-37

"Their amazement went beyond all bounds:  ‘He has done everything well!  He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!’”
                                                                                                                             Mark 7: 31-37

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Catholic Church.  Over the years thousands of people have made pilgrimages to Lourdes, France, to pray to Jesus’ Spirit for healing.  Mary’s presence always desires to have us taste more of her Son’s love, and at this place of prayer she gathers us with a special focus to see Jesus’ Spirit healing humankind.

I feel particularly grateful as well as tearfully happy on this feast.  As a Jesuit I cannot help but remember that our beloved former leader, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., experienced a conversion at Lourdes to live more deeply as a companion with Jesus’ Spirit.

Along with so many others, the young Pedro Arrupe was a pilgrim at Lourdes.  While participating in a procession, in which Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist was being praised and adored, he witnessed someone in the crowd being physically healed.  Later that day he also witnessed the verification of this healing at the nearby hospital.

As an old man Pedro Arrupe wrote this message after having suffered a debilitating stroke which left him paralyzed and mute:

More than ever, I now find myself in the hands of God.  This is what I wanted all my life from my youth.  And this is still the one thing I want.  But now there is a difference:  the initiative is entirely from God.  It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in his hands.

My amazement is tear-filled.  What healing love is ours in the companionship that Jesus’ Spirit offers us!  God is always faithful.  Jesus’ Spirit cannot not heal.  God would be denying His very self.  Whether it is physical, psychological and/or spiritual, Jesus’ Spirit always brings healing love.

The young Pedro Arrupe witnessed another’s physical healing.  I am sure that his deepening conversion, occurring through what he saw, was accompanied by some psychological and spiritual healing.  Surely, in the face of physical debilitations and that creature, death, the elderly Pedro Arrupe tasted a friendship in the company of Jesus that made him a light-hearted and radiant person.

I had the privilege of visiting Pedro Arrupe in his sick bed.  He was physically paralyzed and mute, but oh, could he speak!  In a five-minute visit, while a pilgrim in Rome, I thanked him for his leadership and told him that I loved him.

He was already radiant with joy, but he lit up all the more.  I received blessing in Jesus’ company through Pedro’s smile.  Ever since then, something inside my heart was healed as a mute man spoke about the amazement of Jesus’ care.

Be encouraged!

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