I struggled with 1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13, the Responsorial Psalm 132:6-7,8-10, and Mark’s description of Jesus and his disciples coming to Gennesaret, as I read them through, again and again. I could not seem to capture in my mind any central meaning for me.
Then, I received an email that caused me to re-read with greater intensity. The email informed me of the death of a high school classmate. I had heard last summer that Libby was battling cancer, and I began to include her in my daily prayer. Of course, I prayed for her healing and complete recovery from the cancer. As the months passed, I periodically heard that she was not beating the cancer, and I was left with what I believe to be a very human dilemma. Should I continue to pray for her recovery, or should I ask God to give her comfort in her final days?
Mark tells us that at Gennesaret “as many as touched [the tassel of Jesus’ cloak] were healed.” How were they healed? Where they physically healed? Or, were they simply healed from, or given comfort in the face of, the psychological and emotional stress of dying? What is it that they and the persons who brought them for healing wished from Jesus? What is it that we pray for when a loved one is seriously ill?
As the reports of my classmate’s health changed from battling cancer to living out her numbered days, my prayers did change from healing and recovery to comfort and peace. I have learned that I cannot always have what I want as I pray, but I can tell myself that there is a bigger plan. God may not be able to take away the disease but is able to provide comfort and peace if we are open to this kind of healing.
A follow-up email informed me that there will be a celebration of Libby’s life, and paraphrasing today’s Responsorial Psalm, the faithful ones are shouting merrily for joy that Libby lived, that her life was full of love, and that she is now with God.
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