Again, deepening our understanding of Jesus as Divine Physician, chapter 7 has three healing episodes including one that is a resurrection miracle (vv. 11-17). As we’ve said before, healing is the primary characteristic of Jesus’s ministry. In fact, the preaching of the Gospel is itself designed to heal the wounds that were sustained because of the original sin of Adam and Eve that has then been passed on to us through concupiscence. Concupiscence is the tendency to sin that plagues all of humanity. It is concupiscence that we try to combat when we pray, we when serve, we choose good over evil, when we practice the virtues, etc. And the more we combat concupiscence, the more we are healed and the more we are healed, the more we are restored to communion with God, self and others.
Notice vv. 6 and 7. These are the words we say before we receive Holy Communion at Mass. They are words of humility, contrition and ultimately, hope. They are words that unite us to the healing ministry of Jesus. They are words that say, loud and clear, “I need to be healed. I need to be restored.”
The other part of this chapter is somewhat difficult to understand. In vv. 18-35 we have Jesus talking about his most immediate past prophet, John the Baptist. It’s interesting, I think, to hear Jesus talk about the credibility of one of the prophets that foretold his own coming. And yet this exchange with the disciples of John the Baptist is designed to fulfill the role of John the Baptist in that even his disciples must move from being disciples of him, to being disciples of Jesus- the Lamb of God.
The chapter closes with Jesus forgiving a sinful woman (vv. 36-50). Tradition holds up for us that this woman is Mary Magdalen, later St. Mary Magdalen. Jesus exchange with both her and Simon (not Simon Peter but Simon the owner of the house) shows the two sides of the forgiveness of sins. Jesus both forgives and challenges us to forgive by avoiding the dangerous sin of passing judgment. This particular episode, among others, makes it clear that Jesus has little tolerance for those who pass judgment on others. The invitation for us, is to imitate Jesus: forgive all people, forgive them, restore them to God, self and others: this is being like Christ. This is holiness.
Point for Prayer
“Jesus, you cured the slave of the centurion, resurrected the son of the widow of Naim, and forgave a sinful woman. Touch me with the transforming love you exercised in these three events. Move me to be open to your presence and change me into a vital witness of your love. Amen”(78).