Grace to you!
Are you carrying a burden, which is as heavy as lead and weighing you down? You feel so incapacitated and unable to lift the load. Bent over, downwards, so much so you see only the dirt; and that dirt becomes a constant reminder of your incapacitation?
The burden could be some worries about the past, some sickness, a hurtful experience, some habits of sin that cheat you of inner peace and joy. It could equally be about social conditions that keep you down and depressed. It may be about your family, marriage difficulties or a humbling child. Name it.
In the bible, there is a case that represents that situation. In fact there are a number of them; but for today’s reflection, let’s focus on one. It’s a story recorded in Luke 13:10-17, about a woman who the Gospel says, “for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.”
Perhaps, a spiritual imaginative abstraction of the significance of the health condition of this woman may help our reflection. The image of being bent over, looking downwards to the earth instead of to the heavens, is a biblical imagery that shows hopelessness and despair. Psalm 121:1-2 indicates optimism and hope when it says, “I look up to heights…my help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.”
If we are bent over, we see only the dirt of despair and can’t grasp the beauties around us. Bent over, we hear sounds that irk us, and our inability to see what the sounds are about, adds to our pain. Bent over is a situation of hopelessness and gloom. Nobody wants to be in that situation, or would you?
Here is a way out: The woman that was bent over didn’t allow her health condition to prevent her from worship. She was at the synagogue, to hear God’s Word (then the Law) and share the faith with other worshippers. Many individuals encounter the Word of God when they join in the place of worship, fellowship and liturgical celebration at Mass. There, God warms the heart with His Word and lifts our burdens.
Second, the woman was sincerely seeking the face of God and wouldn’t be ostracized because of her condition. When we are bent over, our worst enemy is ourselves; that pessimistic spirit which wants to keep us locked inside and not seek help outside. We sincerely need to step out and seek the face of healing, the face of God.
Scripture says, “When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.”
Observe that it wasn’t the woman who called on Jesus for help; it was Jesus who saw her and reached out to her. Jesus already knew her heart and her deep, sincere love and faith. We need this.
I love one of the translations of this text that says, “Jesus looked upon her.” When we are bent over with some burdens and we trust in the mercy of God, Jesus looks upon us with the eyes of pity, mercy and compassion. Jesus’ gaze flows from the intimacy of Divine Love, casting the rays of healing and wholeness upon our bent over state.
My prayer is that Christ Jesus would cast his eyes upon you and lift the burdens that weigh you down. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.