“God’s Spirit joins with our spirit
to declare that we are God’s children…”
Sometimes, others’ sufferings can almost paralyze us with
helplessness in our effort to be of assistance. The aftermath of
the hurricanes in the United States, Mexico and Central America
and the terrible earthquakes in Pakistan and India continue to flood
the nightly news. Recently, in my personal life, I have spent time
with a grieving friend who lost her mother to a sudden stroke; another
friend is struggling with the oppressiveness of a chronic and painful
eye malady; and yet another friend is crushed under the heavy weight
of helplessness as she watches her child endure the progression
of HIV in his body. In the midst of all this suffering, it is sometimes
difficult to recognize God’s presence in our midst.
Today’s Gospel is a consolation to me in the midst of these
sufferings. Jesus recognizes the long suffering of a woman’s
pain of being bent over for eighteen years and invites her to come
to him. He reaches out to her, lays his hands in blessing upon her
and proclaims, “Woman, you are free of your infirmity”.
Not surprisingly, the woman standing up straight raises her voice
in thanksgiving to God. (The story does continue with a short-lived
conflict over Jesus’ healing of the woman on the Sabbath.)
I am tempted to wish… “If only we could have Jesus
walking among us to bless and heal all those in misery and pain
Perhaps the Gospel story isn’t really about Jesus’ healing
action at that moment in history as much as it is about how, by
Jesus’ example, we might choose to respond to those who are
suffering and in need in our world today.
We are reminded in today’s passage from Roman’s,
“God’s Spirit joins with our spirit to declare that
we are God’s children…we are heirs of God and co-heirs
with Christ…sharing in Christ’s suffering and sharing
in Christ’s glory.” If we are truly one with God’s
Spirit through our Baptism, then we are called to be the presence
of God in our world today.
So…as God’s children and heirs we are sent forth as
images of the God presence in today’s world…to be Christ
in our midst.
I know that at times, I feel at a loss as to how I might be of comfort
to another…the suffering seems overpowering. It is then that
I realize that I am not alone…and do not need to ‘figure
it out by myself’. In fact, a bit further in the Roman’s
passage, we are reminded: “The Spirit, too, comes to help
us in our weakness. For we don’t know how to pray…but
the Spirit expresses our pleas…And God, who knows everything
in our hearts, knows perfectly well what the Spirit is saying in
Perhaps if I/we allowed God’s spirit into our quiet spaces,
we could accept the call to be: the healers of those in pain by
our loving embrace; the ‘pray’-ers and ‘do’-ers
who manifest hope by our caring presence in the midst of hopelessness;
the listeners and comforters of those overwhelmed by their feelings
of grief and sorrow.
My prayer today is to be open to God’s healing presence in
my life so that I might be that healing embrace to others.