This week, I want to introduce you to a new contributor and friend, Beth Knobbe! A year ago, Beth and I were finally able to not only meet, but work together on a retreat project for the upcoming World Youth Day in Poland. For years I followed her from afar and mutual friends always hoped Beth and I would meet. When we finally did, I instantly felt not only Beth’s passion but her authenticity. She currently works for Catholic Relief Services and brings her passion for mission work and social justice to her role there. You can find a full bio of Beth on her website as well as links to her two books on the single life, there are a few things you will not read about her on her website. Please join me in welcoming her to our community. This week she invites us to examine Jesus’ ministry of healing.
Mercy Matters: Jesus the Healer
Do not underestimate the extent to which you’ve been hurt.
We live in a broken world. We all carry a certain amount of physical, emotional, or spiritual wounds. Other people unwittingly project their brokenness onto us. We in turn, often unknowingly, although sometimes intentionally, take out our pain on others.
How often do we brush off people’s offers of assistance and diminish our need for help. “It’s not that bad. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
Life is fragile. Your life is fragile. It is easy to consider the fragility of a newborn child, an elderly grandparent, a cancer patient. All of our lives are fragile, which is another way of saying that we are constantly in need of God’s grace and mercy. It is tempting to think that we can overcome our brokenness by our own stubborn self-determination and will-power. Sooner or later we will be disappointed by our own limitations or by another person’s failure to live up to our expectations.
Mercy points the way to the deeper places where Jesus desires to heal us.
Jesus Ministry of Healing
Jesus’ ministry of healing reveals some of the most tangible acts of mercy in scripture. I imagine the gospel stories offer just a small glimpse of the countless lives that Jesus touched during his time on Earth. These stories are a great source of comfort to those in need of physical healing, and they also point to our need for spiritual strength – whether we’re feeling stuck like the paralytic, ostracized like a leper, or facing life-long hurts like the bent over woman.
In Mark 5:21-43 Jesus is stopped by a synagogue official who begs Jesus to come quickly to heal his daughter. As they press their way through the crowd, a woman afflicted with a hemorrhage notices Jesus passing by. The woman reaches out to touch the hem of his garment with the hope, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Jesus heals the woman, and as they prepare to continue, he learns that the little girl has died. He insists that they finish the journey, and upon entering the home, he raises the young girl to life.
Two powerful stories rolled into one! In both instances, Jesus’ mercy is made available – to a father who outright begs and to a woman who unworthily sneaks in search of it. The healing of the woman with the hemorrhage is book-ended by the story of a young girl who is raised to life. It is a healing story within a healing story.
What an incredible metaphor for our own lives! Deep wounds heal from the inside. True healing happens when we allow Jesus’ mercy to enter into the deepest layers of brokenness within us.
Perhaps we’ve seen these examples in ourselves and others:
- How anger at a colleague is used to mask a conflict happening at home
- An inflated ego covers up personal insecurities and the fear that you won’t measure up to people’s expectations
- Resorting to subtle sarcasm and belittling comments, when in reality you are envious of someone else’s success
- Spreading gossip and projecting blame to deflect the hard but necessary work of face-to-face forgiveness
- The physical aches and pains that accompany growing older, which give way to doubts about one’s self-worth and systems of support
Mercy Meets Us in Our Pain
Jesus sees all of our pain through the eyes of mercy. A mercy that is truly “womb-love” and life-giving compassion. Jesus desires to go to the very depth of our pain. He sees beneath the surface to the source of our hurts, uncovering our deepest needs, even those masked by surface level scars.
During this Lenten season, can I bring my own brokenness and sinfulness before God? Can I allow Jesus to enter into my woundedness and heal me from the inside?
When someone else hurts me, can I see that person as someone who is needy and broken? Can I look through the eyes of compassion and mercy, as Jesus does?
Why Does Mercy Matters?
The places where we are most in need of healing, the place where we hurt most deeply, hold the greatest potential for experiencing the presence of Christ. Mercy gives us the strength to allow Jesus into those places with us. Let him go there with you.
Want to Go Deeper?
- Pray in solidarity with our hurting world through CRS Rice Bowl
- Scriptures for Prayer: