“There is more value in a little study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world.” Saint Teresa of Avila
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 1: 21-45; focused on 1.32-34, 39-42
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons…
So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
Jesus the Healer
The Gospel of Mark contains many accounts of Jesus healing people from various afflictions: illnesses, diseases, even paralysis. It is easy to be impressed by Jesus’ power to heal and his God-given authority over that which human beings have little to no control. But what stood out to me when I read the passage this time was the desire and willingness of Jesus to accomplish the restoration of the suffering souls who sought his healing power.
Verse 41 describes Jesus as being filled with compassion. He did not weigh the attributes of those who came to him in order to determine whether he would help them. He did not consider whether they “deserved” to be healed. He did not judge them by their appearance, their socio-economic status, their family of origin, their age, gender, race, or any of the things that people then and now seem to be concerned about. He healed them because he saw their suffering and had compassion on them.
And I was once again reminded how far short I fall of his divine example. I hesitate to help those who approach me for money on the street because I fear they will do more damage to themselves by spending it on alcohol or drugs. I wonder (judgmentally, I confess) how people who seem to lack the basic necessities of life such as food and shelter can afford to pay their cell phone bills or to feed their dogs. I have trouble resisting the urge to walk up to the young smoker and attempt to “help” him by describing my uncle’s slow and horrible death from emphysema.
The question that forms itself in my mind when I read this passage of scripture and attempt to apply it to my own life is not “What would Jesus do?” Instead, it is “How would Jesus feel?” For it is out of the feeling of compassion for the suffering of afflicted souls that the “doing” proceeds.
My prayer for today is that God will instill in us the kind of compassion it takes to truly help those for whom we can provide hope, whether through donations of time or resources, acts of forgiveness and restoration, a listening ear or an encouraging word. May we ever strive to respond to the needs we see around us as did our Savior, “I am willing.”
Jesus, help us to see people as you see them and help us to respond as you would respond with compassion and kindness.