A fellow walked into a doctor's office and the receptionist asked him what he had.  He said, "Shingles."  So she took down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat.

A few minutes later a nurse's aide came out and asked him what he had.  He said, "Shingles."  So she took down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told him to wait in the examining room.

Ten minutes later a nurse came in and asked him what he had.
He said, "Shingles."  So she gave him a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, told him to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.

Fifteen minutes later the doctor came in and asked him what he had.
He said, "Shingles."  The doctor said, "Where?"    He said, "Outside in the truck. Where do you want them?"

A single word may have different meanings. Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage may or may not have met, but a single word unites them both--faith.

Bleeding for twelve long years, this woman had suffered much.  True faith is manifested when one has questioned God’s love and goodness during times of pain and uncleanness, when years of praying bring out nothing.  Faith shines through when one becomes angry at God, when one feels hopeless for all the medical treatments that led to financial bankruptcy, just like this woman.

So when she heard about Jesus, she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."  Touching Jesus was a decision that made the difference.  She touched him with true faith in her heart.  No suffering, no pain, no uncleanness, no bitterness and no misery could equal faith in this woman’s heart when she touched Christ.

“Who touched me?”  our good Lord asked.  In fear and trembling, she approached him and then our Jesus said, “Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

God always gives us more than what we need.  Healing her was only part and parcel of what she needed.  The other parts were her faith in God and her relationship with her community.  The significant part was giving back her life.

Life is about living for one another.  When the woman touched Jesus, a different kind of a relationship was established. 

We cannot hug ourselves.  We cannot embrace ourselves.  We cannot cry on our own shoulders.   St. Cyril of Alexandria said that “by nature, each one of us is enclosed in his own personality, but supernaturally, we are all one." 

This is what has been constantly reiterated in all our churches that whenever we gather at Mass, whenever we touch God through the Eucharist, a different kind of a relationship is established.  It means calling God Our Father.  It means treating each other as brothers and sisters because we are all His children. It means calling ourselves a family.

When Jesus healed the woman, he is telling us in a different way that the deepest need we have is not that we are helpless when we are faced with problems and difficulties.  Our deepest need comes when we help each other battle our problems and confront our difficulties.  The deepest hunger we have is not the satisfaction we get from the food we eat.  Our deepest hunger comes from the willingness to give more from what we get.  The deepest longing we have is not that we are healed and cured from whatever sickens and afflicts us.  Our deepest longing is that we share in each other’s pain and suffering with faith as our point of unity.

Faith is the strong bond that unites the synagogue official named Jairus to the woman afflicted with hemorrhage.  Through faith, we share in each other's pains and celebrate in each other's joys.  Without faith, we will always have our fears.  Without faith, we will never appreciate the goodness of life.

“Have faith!” Jesus says to us today.  Faith can take away our pains and our bleedings. Faith can shape our future as it has directed our past.  And, faith can bring us to life eternal, shingles or no shingles.

1 July 2012

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