“On February 11, 1858, a beautiful woman appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a remote stone grotto outside of Lourdes, France. When asked her name, she replied, ‘I am the Immaculate Conception.’"
"...In a spot where she requested a chapel, a spring bubbled forth. Since that time seventy officially recognized cures and hundreds of unofficial healings have been reported at Lourdes.”
(Magnificat, February 2021)
In celebration of this event, Pope Benedict the 16th wrote:
“Mary is the one who believed and, from her womb, rivers of living water have flowed forth to irrigate human history. The spring that Mary pointed out to Bernadette (here) in Lourdes is the humble sign of this reality. From her believing heart, from her maternal heart, flows living water which purifies and heals.”
In today’s gospel of Mark, we encounter another mother, one who comes to Jesus, one who seeks healing for her daughter.
This mother, a Gentile, Greek by birth, out of love for her daughter and faith in Jesus, falls at his feet.
Jesus, in order to teach, initially tells her that his ministry is for the Jewish people alone.
But out of love for her daughter, this woman persists to humbly plead with Jesus, to drive out the demon from her daughter.
How many of us have prayed to Jesus to remove evil or sinful habits from those of our loved ones and ourselves?
The mother in today’s gospel is a model of Christian faith - for each of us. Though she is initially rebuffed by Jesus, she is not discouraged. She perseveres with confidence.
Somehow, through what she has heard, she believes that ultimately Jesus will be moved to heal her daughter. She refuses to take no for answer and is rewarded. In fact, this moment foreshadows Jesus coming to save all people.
The lesson in this story is that the Lord does hear our prayers. Even in His apparent refusals, He means to awaken us to a deeper faith, which will, in time, open up our ability to receive the gift He has for us.
I know a priest who prayed for 21 years for his father’s conversion, every day—only to have the father ask his son, the priest, to hear his Confession on his deathbed. After his father’s death, he shared this story of faith and healing, so long in coming, and yet it happened in God’s time.
What is it that you’ve been praying for — maybe for a long time?
Today’s gospel can inform and inspire us to keep at it! Just like the Gentile-mother and the priest who never gave up on the compassion of Jesus and His power to heal.
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About Father David Marcham
Reverend David S. Marcham is the Vice Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Patrick Peyton, and Director of the Father Peyton Guild, whose members pray for Father Peyton’s beatification and spread his message of the importance of Family Prayer. Prior to becoming a seminarian, Father David was a physical therapist and clinical instructor, serving hospital inpatients and outpatients throughout the greater Boston area for eleven years. In 1998 he heard the call to priesthood and was ordained in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2005. Father David grew up in Quincy, MA, and has fond memories of playing soccer, tennis and running track. You’re never without a friend when Father David is around, as he welcomes everyone into his circle with a smile on his face!