Daily Reflection
October 24th, 2005

Cathy Weiss Pedersen

Campus Ministry
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Romans 8:12-17
Psalms 68:2 and 4, 6-7ab, 20-21
Luke 13:10-17

“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 today...”.

But wait…

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 us.”(Rom: 26-27)

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.

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