by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, February 3, 2013:
Psalm 119:105-107 or 119:107
In today's reading, we see two miracles of Jesus, both involving healing. In this post, Mark G. Vitalis Hoffman has created an interesting chart that looks at the two miracles side by side. It's worth a look.
The miracle of the healing of the Roman centurion's slave shows a Roman who knows how the system should work. He makes his appeal for the life of his slave through proper channels. Jesus responds.
The miracle of the healing of the widow's son shows a woman of low social status. Jesus' healing shows that once again he's flouting the purity code when he touches the bed of the dead son.
Both miracles show the compassion of Jesus. We don't have to pray in just the right way to get God's attention. We don't have to go through a certain pattern of behaviors to win the favor of Jesus.
I'm always a bit wary of texts like today's. I worry about the people who have prayed for healing, but haven't gotten the outcome for which they yearned. We can say, "God is the ultimate physician." It's important to remember how rarely God subverts the physical laws of the world that God created--when that happens, as C. S. Lewis tells us (Bishop Gordy cited Lewis in a Bible study at the Create in Me retreat at Lutheridge in 2012; I don't have the direct reference).
And it never happens because we've prayed the right prayer, because we've contributed to the proper social justice funds, because we've behaved the right way as opposed to the wrong way. We can't control God that way, and it's vital that we remember that we cannot.
Luckily, we worship a compassionate God, one who wants to be with us in good times and bad. We worship a compassionate God who will touch us, despite our impurity, and we are healed, often in ways we cannot fully understand.
And if our cells continue to die, as cells do, if our body wears out, as bodies do--the narrative of Jesus tells us the larger story. Death is never the last word. It may be the outcome we wanted to avoid. But resurrection will come.