The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
At most Masses, you will see at least one person using a walker, a cane or even a wheelchair to get around — probably more than one. While they might not consider themselves “infirm,” they remind us of what today’s Gospel proclamation says: “Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
Not all of us have visible infirmities, and we probably don’t consider ourselves “infirm.” But what about our not-so-visible infirmities? What about the broken-hearted or the grieving, people who feel like Job: “I shall not see happiness again?” What about those who worry about a parent’s health or a child’s struggles in school. What about those who have money issues.
Maybe it’s even less monumental; maybe you have a cold, headache or even a fever like Peter’s mother-in-law.
All of us might listen to today’s Gospel and find ourselves wishing that Jesus could come to our house right now, touch our hands and raise us up to health.
Bishop Robert Morneau has often said, while addressing a group, that “I am surprised the floor doesn’t give way today because of the weight that each of us carries on our shoulders.”
We come to Mass, hoping to find relief as Peter’s mother-in-law found relief and healing. We come to God’s house to find Jesus, just as so many came to Peter’s house seeking Jesus. But, unlike those ancient days in Palestine, Jesus didn’t leave for some other place this dawn. He’s right here, in God’s house — and right beside us every day — waiting for us to bring our infirmities to him.
We do that when we pray, sing and share peace with each other. Then we go to Communion and receive the healing food which lifts us up. It’s not just the touch of his hand, but his very self that brings us healing — in ways we cannot begin to understand, but that we know are real.
During our parish Holy Hours, we pray the “Litany of the Holy Eucharist” during Eucharistic Adoration. Two of the many titles of Jesus used in that litany are: “Jesus, food for our journey” and “Jesus, medicine of immortality.”
This is what we receive at holy Communion: food and medicine. So that, when we leave — even though we might still have our walkers, canes or headaches — we can “go in peace,” knowing that Jesus goes with us. That’s just one reason why we say, as Mass ends, “Thanks be to God.”
Kasten is an associate editor of The Compass and the author of many books.