You Are So Much Stronger Than You Know

Always after a spiritual exercise weekend, our numbers for Encounter with Christ double.  Why? Everyone is seeking the peace and depth of love they felt over the weekend.  Much of it is sacramental, but the rest of it is the companionship in eating of the BREAD OF LIFE (John 6:22), the eternal and living word of God.  Because there were so many of us, there were many lights on what the Holy Spirit was sharing about this upcoming Sunday’s gospel.

The Cure of Simon’s Mother-in-Law. 29 On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. 31 He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

Other Healings. 32 When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. 33 The whole town was gathered at the door. 34 He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Jesus Leaves Capernaum. 35 Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and those who were with him pursued him 37 and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” 39 So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

  •  Not permitting them to speak because they knew him 
    • How many times do I receive an answer to a prayer and forget to say thank you or ask God what He may want of me?  A person would want to follow him more and see what he is about, and form a relationship with him if there is a mystery to the healing.  Knowing he was God, and getting healed, might make some people tempted to just jump back to their lives, and not delve deeper into the mystery of who Christ really is.
  • He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up:
    • He is waiting to help us and offering us his hand while we are struggling and stubbornly wrangling with our own problems when all we really have to do is reach up and take his hand, and ask for his help.
  • For this purpose have I come
    • He was determined and duty-minded and clear about his mission.  How many times do I waver in my own mission? I must not waste time and get busy doing the work he has for me, and I must pray and be clear about what that work is.
  • He left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed:
    • We read this in the gospels often.  Jesus knew that everything he did, all the good, healing, and teaching had to come from filling his own cup with prayer first, before he could share it with others.
      • Side note: On retreat, Fr. Peter shared with us, that in the Holy Sacrifice of the mass, the Eucharist (the body of Christ) holds unlimited graces for us, but what are we bringing to fill up on those graces? A thimble? A cup? How about if we all bring our “super tanker trucks” to fill with graces to be poured out to those around us, asking Jesus to give us every available grace we can get and believing in that unlimited capacity so we can share those graces with others.
  • Everyone is looking for you
    • Everyone is looking for Christ; whether they know it or not.  As Pope John Paul The Great once said, “It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.” Although the apostles were refering to the crowds who were chasing after Jesus (most likely in search of healing) we know that everyone we encounter in our lives is seeking healing of some kind, and they may not know that it is through Christ that they receive this healing.  We have the great responsibility that ALL WHO KNOW HIM, must SHARE HIM.
    • Upon receiving the grace of reconciliation after confession, one person said that she received the important message that we all need to hear after repenting of our sins, “Now that you know better, mediocrity is no longer an option.” Isn’t it true? Jesus himself tells us, “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Acts 26:18) because we are called away from being “lukewarm” (Rev 3:16).
  • The mystery of Jesus
    • The title of this section in one of our bibles was entitled “The Mystery of Jesus”.  It is a reminder that much of what is happening in these scenes was a mystery to many who witnessed and required faith, as do we today when we read these passages and try to understand it in light of the mission we have been called to in our lives.
    • Like the mother-in-law in this scene, who we jokingly thought had some reprieve from her work by laying in bed with a fever, jumped up after being healed an immediately began to serve again.  Christ didn’t stop to laze around; he DID stop to pray.  We have to remember to keep serving with all that we have gathered by the grace of our prayers and the sacraments, which are our strength.
    • Like some in-law relations are joked about being difficult for some, we must remember that my sanctification is gained through difficult relationships.  When I cannot be charitable or kind to someone or I struggle to get along with someone, I can remember that God calls us to love.  No matter what “someone stirs up in me” (or I let myself be affected by!), I am responsible for the charity that must be shone from my end of the relationship.

This Week’s Case: You’re so much stronger than you know

A recent post on Fox news highlights the story of singer, Joy Villa, who recently appeared at the 60th Grammy awards, wearing a white dress with a fetus in the womb painted on it, as well as a “Choose Life” handbag, all because she wanted to use her story to inspire other women.  Like many women today, Joy found herself in a situation that made her feel lost, victimized, and undervalued.  She felt alone, afraid, and abandoned.  She reached up and grasped the hand of Jesus in a time when she didn’t know if help was there for her, and she ignored the negative voices in her head and the clinic nurse–who told her she had no options–and do the heroic thing for her unborn baby: “I put her life over mine”. She gave her up for adoption to a family that desperately wanted a child they were unable to have.  She was only 20 at the time, but realized that this person, this child, also deserved better than what she had felt from this abusive relationship; “It pains me to remember how utterly devoid of value I felt at the time, but I truly believed that I deserved to be abandoned, forgotten and punished.” Like Norma McCorvey of the famous Roe V Wade case which legalized abortion, she had been listening to lies.

In light of this case, many parallel cases were shared about women who were also told by medical professionals that they should abort their babies, and many women didn’t know they had other options, and trusted in their doctor or nurse’s opinion, who may not be coming from a place of healthy faith formation in the light of Christ.  Like the gospel today, we can recognize the need for healing in so many souls, the seeking of Christ and our own value in ourselves through his love for us.  As we reflected in the gospel the need to first pray and hear God’s truth in our hearts before we listen to any voice that undervalues our true human dignity, and be cured of the evil that tries to take us over.  Joy Villa used her God-given gifts of her own public platform to be a courageous gift to the world in her example of true love; putting another before oneself.

Theological virtue: Faith

Human virtue: Courage


Spiritual (PRAY FIRST!) Prayer to St Michael the Archangel:

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

APOSTOLIC ACTION: To verbally encourage a person who is suffering in some way to understand their true human value and repeat the phrase from Joy Villa that stood out to so many of us:

“You are so much stronger than you know.”

(thanks to Lisa V for the PJP quote!)

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