A number of years ago I learned about a condition, a somewhat common condition called macular degeneration. I learned about it because my dad had it.
Macular degeneration is a condition usually of older adults which results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the Macular) because of damage to the retina. It is a major cause of blindness in those over 50 years. I recall that it made it increasingly difficult for my father to read or recognize faces, although he had enough peripheral vision to allow him to carry on fairly well. I recall him often saying something like: those people over there look like walking trees. Sound familiar? Maybe you struggle with this same condition or perhaps one of your parents or a grandparent? Maybe this was the very problem that afflicted the man from Bethsaida?
Now, I am not Dr Reed trying to diagnose the medical issues of people two thousand years ago. I am Fr Reed trying, like you, to make my way through this life with the great help of my Faith. And you know, it takes a sense of bravery to live this life.
We are all presented challenges along the way, but my observation has been that as one gets older, those challenges and obstacles mount...especially in the realm of the physical. These eyes, these bodies of ours are fragile and not meant to last forever. Despite all the advances in medical science, there are some problems doctors just can’t fix. Yes, miracles do happen, but not for all.
I am certain there were others in Bethsaida who were not physically touched by Jesus. But He came and walked among them!
Our coming together in prayer here today is our daily chance to focus on what is lasting and most important in life…and that is: our relationships. First of all our deep connection with the Lord Jesus, the Divine Physician, the healer of both body and spirit. We are united in Him AND, we are deeply connected to one another in the mystery of the Church. Granted, this body, this ark we have been given to navigate life is not made to last forever. But we are! Think of it: you are meant for eternity, you and I are meant for God. We will, as St Augustine powerfully reflected, we will be restless until we rest in Him.
Allow the Lord Jesus, who does indeed live among us, allow the Lord to touch you today. Know that you are loved beyond belief, that no ache or worry or thought is unknown to Him.
So...once again, we come into the presence of God, with all of our physical struggles and our sinfulness. We park our arks and discover that we are, if you will, we are all in the same boat. Thank God for this boat, the Church, that sustains us and heals us and carries us toward the fullness of life.