Reflection for Sunday, July 2, 2000: 13th week in Ordinary Time.
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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
"God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living." We hear this opening verse of the First Reading today and we want to hear more. There is much sickness, death and destruction among us. Why? What is the reason? If we knew that, well, then we might feel better. God fashioned all things to have being and that is the problem and the reason. We are creatures having material being and spiritual being together. The spiritual, having no parts, is a part of the Eternal God. The material has parts and, in time and with usage, wares out. The First Reading suggests that the "envy of the devil" entered the domain of God and death is the result. This is not a completely satisfying explanation. Could not God have made things differently, more according to our ways?|The Gospel pictures Jesus doing double-duty. On the way to heal a little girl, an older woman, in desperate straights, interrupts His "mercy-call" to reach out for some herself. She had tried everything to be cured and so her suffering condition leads her finally to Jesus; she had nowhere else to turn. She would naturally have the questions, "why this," and "why me." She did not ask for answers nor directly ask for help; she just touched His clothing and her faith and the love of Jesus, healed her.|Jesus then continues His healing walk, even though He is told that the "little girl" has died. He arrives at the house, heals the girl and all are astonished, of course.|The Gospels so often picture Jesus as some kind of doctor, very interested in physical well being of others. Yes, this is partly true, but the well being of the whole of creation and the health of the spiritual self are more His mission and passion. Physical healing is important to Jesus because it is so important to us and our world. At times we are desperate ourselves, and after all avenues have been traveled, we turn to God as almost some kind of magic-maker. Then when that fails, we are tempted to doubt God's love, care and power to take care of the material being.|These readings can seem to be so consoling and calling for our trust in God when we are sick or desperate. The real impact of today's readings is that we, as human beings, are in conflict and "aflict." We are afflicted by colds, headaches, drooping this, sagging that, falling these, losing that. We are conflicted by the struggles between the eternal spirit and the time-bound material body. Jesus heals the body for one purpose. He is always saying in one way or other, "get up," "go your way," "live." The healings of Jesus in the Gospels make Him to be more interested in the health of the spiritual than the physical or material.|The First Reading puts it very clearly, "for God formed man to be imperishable, the image of His Own Nature, He made him." That which is made of God has been made for God and our bodies are made holy by the presence of God's Spirit within us. We desire to have our bodies, and the bodies of those we love, to last a long time. We want physical health to be the norm for us and all. That is such a good prayer and wish. Jesus came as Doctor of the more long-lasting, the eternal part of us. What we hold to be more important, Jesus views differently. Our bodies are the signs of God's creative love; our souls are the reality of God eternal love.|We are to take our medicine, go to the doctor, get our operations, but all these are gifts to help our souls be healthy and live the sacramental life of allowing our deepest reality to be expressed through our physical, healed, bodies. Healing then is a means and not an end. The end is not here on earth.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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