I've just returned from Hawaii, the land of paradise…sun, sand, surf and spa. This trip was a gift from a friend whose husband died this year. He was also a dear friend. She offered me a place to stay while she immersed herself in a beautiful oasis, grieving her loss. She was also healing. My massage therapist explained how people come to Hawaii to heal: whether from divorce, death of a loved one, to reunite families or recover from an illness. I was grateful for the chance to be present to her while I did some healing of my own.
At the heart of my ongoing healing is a need to be in communion with God as well as with my earthly family. While on my retreat, things were hanging in the balance at home as to whether my daughter would return to college after a rough semester. We don't always see eye-to-eye about her decision-making, and we both feel misunderstood. Somewhere I read that God leads us to perfection if only we have the courage to accept ourselves. I have to ask: am I able to trust enough to accept anyone I love for the way they are, recognizing how imperfect I am?
In today's Gospel, Jesus is a victim of being misunderstood also. His mother, brothers and sister were concerned for his welfare and, not understanding his ministry, had come for him. He was behaving out of character in deep contrast to his upbringing. Casting out demons and healing the sick were radical things and despite the fact that they loved him, they were embarassed, shamed, angry, worried..... who knows the gammit of emotions and reactions they might have experienced? Add to that the implications that those who opposed him labeled him "possessed". Certainly Jesus' audience was watching, wondering how he would respond. Jesus used a teaching moment and illuminated a valuable truth. While our natural families may oppose us, there is a larger, spiritual family to which we belong, the spiritual family of God. Jesus calls up the imagery of the loyalty, caring and commitment of the family to describe the relationship we should have toward one another in the body of Christ.
I am drawn irresistibly to Jesus as a healer. With great sensitivity He says, For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother. Mark 3:35 This statement not only asks us to recognize that we care for one another as a spiritual family of God, but it also beckons us: how can I heal others in my life? Do I allow others to heal me? Can I heal another by my very presence, by my attitude, by my attentiveness, with my prayer?
Jesus says that his followers are closer to him than even his blood relatives. By loving others and loving them well, despite society's labels of imperfections, we become healers. And we don't have to go to the land of paradise to experience it in return.
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