Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time| Year B
On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with a fever, and they told him about it straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.
That evening after sunset they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.
In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.
In a time when there was very little effective medical care and the average life span was short, disease or illness often meant death. The advent of illness would have seemed like a disaster, compounded by the lack of means available to fight it.
The healing ability of Jesus must have seemed like a lifeline to many desperate people. We know from other parts of the gospels that the healing by Jesus was much more than a healing of the physical problem. It often involved an encounter with Jesus which profoundly affected the person’s life, with the healing reaching beyond the physical into the sufferer’s whole being.
Most people now see healing as being the role of the medical profession. But those with faith who are ill, and especially those with life-threatening conditions, often come to see the work of the medical profession as the work of God. In the 21st century healing is delivered in a different way to the healing Jesus offered his followers, but it is no less a work of God.
The emphasis we place on physical healing can obscure the deeper and fuller healing of Jesus. We harm ourselves when we sin, and we can be wounded and hurt in our relationships with others. Sin can distort our lives and leave us profoundly unhappy as well as adversely affecting others. When others hurt us, bitterness, anger, resentment and depression can all magnify the effects of the hurt and prevent us from moving beyond it. The hurt and its effects can begin to dominate our days. We effectively allow the actions of another to shape our lives and the kind of person we are.
For major hurt, we may need professional help and should seek it, remembering that this can be the way we receive the healing power of Jesus. This is particularly important if the situation causing the hurt is ongoing and we need help to change it or extricate ourselves from it.
For the isolated hurts and slights we can experience in our daily lives, a simple rule of thumb is to first focus on ourselves, not on the person who caused the hurt. Like the people who came to Jesus, acknowledging to ourselves that we have been hurt and asking for his healing help is the first step. We need the healing power of Jesus to keep at bay revenge, bitterness and anger, and his help in restoring the relationship.
The best next step can be to tell the person concerned that their words or actions have caused hurt. This can be helpful in restoring our sense of dignity, and in revealing if in fact there is a misunderstanding on our part or their part. Relationships which are fundamentally good will benefit from honesty if it is not accompanied by recriminations and anger.
We have as much need of the healing power of Jesus as the people of his time. He offers it to us as he did to them.