Prayer for the sick

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Memorial of Athenagoras (1886-1972), patriarch of Constantinople and father of ecumenical dialogue

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 9, 18-26

While he was speaking to them, suddenly one of the officials came up, who bowed low in front of him and said, 'My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and her life will be saved.'

Jesus rose and, with his disciples, followed him.

Then suddenly from behind him came a woman, who had been suffering from a haemorrhage for twelve years, and she touched the fringe of his cloak,

for she was thinking, 'If only I can touch his cloak I shall be saved.'

Jesus turned round and saw her; and he said to her, 'Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.' And from that moment the woman was saved.

When Jesus reached the official's house and saw the flute-players, with the crowd making a commotion, he said,

'Get out of here; the little girl is not dead; she is asleep.' And they ridiculed him.

But when the people had been turned out he went inside and took her by the hand; and she stood up.

And the news of this spread all round the countryside.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Within a few lines, the evangelist describes two miracles performed by Jesus: the resurrection of the daughter of one of the Jewish officials and the cure of the woman suffering from haemorrhages. We are in Capernaum; an official of the synagogue kneels before Jesus and begs, “My daughter has just died; but come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Most probably he knows Jesus very well, having seen him attending the synagogue and maybe even having invited him to take the floor sometimes. For sure he knows the goodness and the mercy of this young prophet. Anyway this is his only hope to have his daughter back. How couldn’t we see in him the sorrow of many parents faced with the death of their children? Included in his prayer are the many desperate prayers for the premature death of those dearest to us. We know that suffering is unacceptable to the one who loves another. But in this man there is a strong faith: he believes that Jesus can do everything. This is the faith the Lord teaches when he says: nothing is impossible to God. Restoring life to this little girl is simply anticipating Easter and the definitive victory of the Lord over death. Jesus listens to the prayer of this dad; he immediately stands up and walks. When he reaches the house of the synagogue official, he takes the girl by the hand and wakes her up from the slumber of death, bringing her back to life. The human being is powerless in front of the violent rift caused by death. With faith, let us entrust to the Lord those who lose their lives when still children or young, and let us learn from the Gospel to accompany those who suffer from the death of their beloved ones, so that the consoling faith in the resurrection may grow. Along the way – Jesus never walks without leaving hints – a woman suffering haemorrhages for twelve years thinks it would be enough just to touch the fringe of his cloak to be healed, thus expressing a simple trust, in a gesture apparently even simpler and more secretly done. Jesus notices it, looks at her and says, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” Matthew points out that the word of Jesus together with the faith of that poor woman works the healing: there is a need for a personal relationship between that woman and Jesus, between us and Jesus. We are not in the field of magic, but rather in the relationship of love and trust with this extraordinary Master. And we have also to ask ourselves: isn’t the disciple, isn’t the Christian community such a fringe of Jesus’ cloak for the many looking for consolation and salvation? Are we really like that? Are our communities really like that? Jesus looks for the person within the crowd. Let us look always for the man and the woman who beg, with their unique and peculiar story.