Gettin’ into the Word

I spent some time this evening doing some lectio divina on Sunday’s Gospel reading.  If you’re interested, make the jump to read my thoughts.

A synagogue official.

As soon as I read that, I judged him, because I associated him with the misguided “church leaders” who were his peers.

It’s normal for a man (me) to experience such negative emotions, based upon our innate tendency toward selfishness.  A holy man (not me – yet) would cooperate with God’s grace and squelch the tendency to pre-judge the official.

Perhaps this official never had the animosity toward Jesus that the other officials (Pharisees, etc.) did.

Or perhaps he did.

Jesus did not judge him, because Jesus looked at everyone with perfect purity of heart.  Though Jesus had authentic human emotions, they weren’t tainted by selfishness.

Anyway, this synagogue official suddenly found himself to be one of the “poor in spirit” – afflicted (by his daughter’s grave illness), and without any possible earthly hope, leaving as his only option to cry out to the Lord for help, and to trust in the Lord’s response and surrender to God’s will. 

Don’t miss the profound depth of the official’s poverty of spirit.  It’s one thing to be afflicted and helpless yourself.  But the pain and frustration of your helplessness is magnified exponentially when one of your loved ones is suffering.  Parents know that they would gladly take on the suffering themselves if their child could be healed.

I can imagine Jesus listening intently to the official’s earnest pleading.  Jesus was a master at focused listening, not allowing himself to be distracted.  He not only listened to the words, but he heard the vocal inflections, he observed the gestures.  He made eye contact if it was offered.  In that way, Jesus was able to sense the man’s heart, to ‘see’ into the very core of his being.

Since the official had no other options, I’m sure he totally spent himself (“left it all on the field” as they say) in presenting his case.  On his knees (or lower…perhaps prostrate).  He may have wept.  I could never make a plea like that without weeping.

[contemplate the face of Jesus rapt in attention]

His plea contained a solid profession of faith.  He may not have had any other options, but he also had no doubts about his only option.  His words might as well have been the ones given to St Faustina: “Jesus, I Trust in You!”

From Jesus, there was no verbal response (none recorded, anyway).

Just……mercy.  In the form of footsteps.

 

Along the way, another of the “poor in spirit,” another affliction, another request (albeit a silent one, at first), more confident trust, and more mercy from Jesus, in the form of immediate healing.

 

Alas…bad news.  Is there to be no mercy after all?

But wait, a reassuring exhortation from the Master!

[contemplate the face of Jesus lovingly speaking reassuring truth]

And a mentoring session for the Rock and the Sons of Thunder.

[contemplate the face of Jesus instructing his Apostles]

Then, a stunning pronouncement that flies in the face of all physical evidence.

It is met with…ridicule.  Mockery.  Accusations.  Name-calling.  Rejection.  Incredulity.  Probably not the first time for Jesus, and certainly not the last.  (All because of MY SINS !!  Jesus endured the ridicule for me!!  He didn’t just start paying the price for me on Holy Thursday evening…he began well before then).

[contemplate the face of Jesus bearing the ridicule, silently offering it to the Father]

Forcing an exercise of authority…the exile of the faithless (an archetype of the Final Judgment?)

[contemplate the face of Jesus giving the command]

Finally…mercy executed!  A daughter freed from the jaws of death.  An untimely tragedy reversed.

[contemplate the face of Jesus healing and speaking to the girl]

For the father and mother – Restoration!!!  Unimaginable joy!

Trust rewarded.  Faith increased.  The power of God at work in the Son – proven beyond a doubt!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

I wonder what the ridiculers had to say afterwards!?

[contemplate the face of Jesus giving “strict orders” not to disclose this event]

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