Summary: Faith is a gift of God to which we yield. We need not do mental gymnastics to force ourselves to believing that a healing is going to occur.


The players (Gospel Drama Players in today’s first miracle account):

Jesus: was not ashamed to be touched by the untouchable,

or feel embarrassed to be publicly identified with outcasts.

The lady was considered unclean. Just by being out in public, she is violating a social taboo. In fact, by her condition, everything she touches becomes also ritually unclean according to Leviticus 15:25-30.

The Lady: has decided in her heart, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed" (Mark 5:28). She drew power from Jesus. Jesus heard her interior monologue! Jesus hears our interior monologue! We have the same means as she did: knowing how to draw power from the Real Presence of Jesus, Present in the Eucharist.

The crowds: Struggling through the crowds of the world can be lonely and hard. Their pull and tug on the individual who wishes to step away to something better can be very strong and very difficult to overcome.

The lady’s healing: is a salvation experience, plus the disease is healed and its social consequences. The lady’s request of Jesus “to get well” or “be healed” and “live” are verbs often used for the fullness of salvation and eternal life that Jesus came to give. Jesus gave a traditional Jewish blessing: “Go [or walk] in peace...” See how God works: transforming someone who was ostracized as “unclean” into a model of faith.

This is also a very “Catholic” healing because of the incarnational principle — St. Thomas Aquinas declared that God could redeem the world in many ways, but chose to become flesh because it was the most fitting. The Incarnational Principle, therefore, speaks to the use of a material reality which can communicate and mediate the spiritual world, thereby allowing us to know God more perfectly.

From a Catholic understanding, the entire mystery of the incarnation comes through the mediation of the material world.

Yet we hear today, "Catholics worship statues!" People still make this ridiculous claim. Yet if people were to "search the scriptures" (John 5:39), they would find the opposite is true. God forbade the worship of statues, but he did not forbid the religious use of statues. Instead, he actually commanded their use in religious contexts!

e.g. “And you shall make two cherubim of gold [i.e., two gold statues of angels] (Ex. 25:18–20).

David gave Solomon the plan "for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord. All this he made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, all the work to be done according to the plan" (1 Chr. 28:18–19). David’s plan for the temple, which the biblical author tells us was "by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all," included statues of angels.

Similarly Ezekiel 41:17–18 describes graven (carved) images in the idealized temple he was shown in a vision, for he writes, "On the walls round about in the inner room and [on] the nave were carved likenesses of cherubim."

During a plague of serpents sent to punish the Israelites during the exodus, God told Moses to "make [a statue of] a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live" (Num. 21:8–9). One had to look at the bronze statue of the serpent to be healed, which shows that statues could be used ritually, not merely as religious decorations.

Sometimes anti-Catholics cite Deuteronomy 5:9, where God said concerning idols, "You shall not bow down to them." Since many Catholics sometimes bow or kneel in front of statues of Jesus and the saints, anti-Catholics confuse the legitimate veneration of a sacred image with the sin of idolatry. Yet, there are numerous examples in the Bible of people bowing and it’s clearly just a gesture of respect.

The bottom line is, when God made the New Covenant with us, he did reveal himself under a visible form in Jesus Christ. Even Protestants use all sorts of religious images: Pictures of Jesus and other biblical persons appear on a myriad of Bibles, picture books, T-shirts, jewelry, bumper stickers, greeting cards, compact discs, and manger scenes. Christ is even symbolically represented through the "fish emblem." Also, think of Oral Roberts, an Oklahoma charismatic healing evangelist who healed through Christ by the laying on of hands; he mailed prayer cloths to his followers, and encouraged listeners to place their hands on the radio as a physical point of contact for his followers to physically touch as an expression of their believing faith.

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