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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 14:34–36

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. (NRSV)

Most of us just want to be by ourselves when we’re sick. When a bad cold or the flu or something more serious hits, we want to close our eyes and be quiet. When we’re too sick to pretend like we’re not, we’re forced to withdraw. It’s even truer, I think, when we are sick in our souls. Maybe it’s too hard to explain or we feel like a burden or we fear that our dis-ease is really our fault, the result of bad habits and poor choices.

This passage reminds me, however, about the social component of Jesus’ healings. Though there are exceptions (Peter’s mother-in-law, Jairus’s daughter), Jesus didn’t usually make house calls. Certainly he could heal the greatest number of people if he didn’t work one at a time, but there’s more going on here than efficiency. Being healed (and being sick) in the midst of a crowd can be embarrassing; it’s an incontrovertible acknowledgement that we are weak, vulnerable, and absolutely not in control. But it also ensures that, as we get well, there are folks around to help and support us. When we rejoice in renewed energy and clearer outlook, there are people around to rejoice with. It’s also a powerful witness to the healing and saving compassion of God.

Jesus is always pulling us out of ourselves: in sickness, in health, in good times, in bad times. He understands the power of community, and he wants us to, too.

Holy and communal God—Father, Son, and Spirit—thank you for the many ways you heal us with and among and through each other. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning

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