|A wintry day in Florida|
Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered,
they laid the sick in the marketplaces
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;
and as many as touched it were healed.
In today's gospel Saint Mark vividly describes the world's desperate need for healing. As Jesus disembarked in Gennesaret the people "scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was."
These many centuries later, by all accounts, we are still as desperate for healing. I meet people in the VA hospital who have a list of illnesses "as long as your arm!" I wonder how on earth do they manage with diabetes, COPD, heart disease, colostomies, catheters, oxygen tubes and so forth. Moving from one room to another is a major accomplishment, and these same people visit four and five doctors each week.
How they would scurry on walkers and wheelchairs if Jesus were to pull up on a nearby shore with a miracle cure!
But we might be astonished to see the crowds appearing around him because we habitually don't see the sick. They don't entertain us on television or in movies. They don't sell alcohol or tobacco. Despite the great risks many face in walking to the bathroom, they don't compete in extreme sports. They're not seen strolling in parks or along lake shores and beaches; they rarely appear in shopping malls or churches. You have to go to certain places -- to hospitals, clinics and medical offices -- to see suffering humanity.
This is, in part, because we don't want to see them in public and they know it; and in part because they don't want to be seen as needy and defenceless. But they are our people and everyone of us faces the near-certainty of disability and disease. Most of us invite it by our lifestyle choices.
The Lord looked on our suffering humanity with compassion. As the crowds rushed to him in Gennesaret he knew the free gift of his healings would cost his life. He did not hesitate.