Remember those overlooked by society, just as Jesus does
Today’s readings focus on healing. They highlight God’s care and power to heal, and they remind us to pray for what requires healing in our lives. Within these texts, we are also reminded to recognize the value and worthiness of all people and to avoid ableist thinking.
‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ (Mk 10:47)
When have you felt disregarded and ignored?
Do you overlook people because they look or act differently than you?
What healing do you need in your life?
Although much of Jeremiah describes hardship and suffering surrounding the Babylonian exile, in the first reading we hear a vision about a time after exile. The vision not only describes people returning home but returning restored. Their sadness and distress are replaced with joyful songs of praise. Their corrupt behavior is improved, with God helping the people not to stumble. When describing who comes back, the text insists that people of Israel and Judah will return, including those who have difficulty seeing and walking and women who are pregnant and in labor. Why list these groups separately? The text highlights people who are often overlooked, disregarded and devalued, sadly in antiquity and in the present. Jeremiah stresses the inclusivity of God’s care as he names these oft-ignored groups. Moreover, Jeremiah helps the larger group be more attuned to the diversity within the community and to recognize all people as equal participants in God’s restoration.
Similarly, healing is at the forefront of the Gospel from Mark. As Jesus, his disciples and a large crowd leave Jericho, a blind person cries out multiple times requesting compassion and mercy. Despite the many healings Jesus had already performed in his ministry, his followers scold the man and disregard him and his request. Jesus, however, models the proper response. He has his followers reach out to the man, correcting their behavior. Jesus then asks the man what he wants, and the man names his desire: “I want to see.” By making the request, the man shows his faith in Jesus’ compassionate healing power, which Jesus affirms by saying, “Your faith has saved you.”
Unfortunately, there is much suffering in the world, and many are in need of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. Today’s readings remind us to pray for healing, being specific and intentional in what is requested. Likewise, the readings should inform how we think about people with ailments and disabilities. We must see them, acknowledging their presence and contributions, including them and honoring their needs.