The Naked Man – pt. 53

For the setting and a cast of characters for this series, click here.

After finishing his meal, Mark looked around the courtyard at the gathered ecclesia. He noticed Yiftach and Adina in animated conversation and smiled. As Yiftach made a sweeping gesture, he noticed Mark’s gaze. The young man nodded in greeting, then turned back to Adina, who was trying to draw her friends into the conversation. I wonder what that’s all about, thought Mark. His mother laid a hand on his forearm. He turned toward her and caught the grimace of pain etched into her wrinkled face as she sat back. “Mother…” he began. She waved his concern off. “It is nothing, my son. Just the reality of living as long as I have. It will pass. Come, continue the story.” As Mark rose to his feet, he noticed another flash of pain on Miryam’s face.

“Sisters and brothers.” The murmur of conversation died down as Mark began to speak. “When we parted last night, we left the disciples astounded by what had happened on the sea of Galilee. The wind had blown them far off course, and so, instead of finding themselves at Bethsaida, when they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret. They moored to the shore and when they had climbed out of the boat, those on the shore immediately recognized Jesus. Unlike his disciples the night before!” He laughed. People ran about that whole area and began to carry those who were sick, lying on their sleeping mats, and brought them to the place where they heard Jesus was. Word had spread throughout the region that divine power to heal was present in Jesus, and crowds flocked to him, desperate for healing.” He glanced involuntarily at his mother, who gestured with her chin towards the crowd in the courtyard, re-directing his attention.

“As he traveled, wherever Jesus entered villages, or cities, or the countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and begging him to let them just touch the fringe of his cloak. The details of the healing of that courageous woman in Capernaum had been carried by merchants and herdsmen from village to village, and wherever Jesus went, he found hands reaching up to touch his cloak. And as many as touched it were being healed.”

Mark paused, and Rachel spoke into the momentary silence. “Is that power to heal still available? I mean, you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, but it’s not like he’s here in this courtyard with you, is it?” Her tone was skeptical, but not mocking. “There are many in this city who carry wounds and suffer with broken limbs from all the fighting. Can you help them?” “And,” continued Yiftach, “when the Romans lay siege to the city, there will be many, many more.”

It was Miryam who responded to their earnest questions. Leaning forward, a smile tinged with pain on her face, she said, “Yes, the power of G_d to heal is still present, and we pray for those in need of it. But our intercession does not always lead to the healing and relief for which we pray. Some of us have experienced healing, but clearly not all those who suffer have had their needs met.” She turned to Mark. “I confess that I sometimes wonder why the power we experienced in those early days after Jesus returned to G_d seems…not so present these years later.”

Before her son could respond she continued. “But divine healing is not always miraculous. There are some here who have been healed through the generous care of physicians.” Miryam gestured towards a couple of men seated under the olive tree. “Physicians whose care they could never have afforded but for the love we share as a fellowship. And, ultimately, it is that love that heals us. Not necessarily of our physical ills, but of our sin-sickness, our isolation, our fear, our bitterness and resentment, all that keeps us separate and divided from one another – and from G_d. That is the true healing of which we all have need.” The lines of pain in her face faded with the joy that now shone in her expression. Miryam reclined once more.

“That may be so,” responded Yiftach. “But when disease and injuries prevent you from participating in the life of our people, physical healing is a necessary step to that other kind of healing.” “Indeed,” responded Mark. “But it’s not only disease or injury that is the cause of the exclusion people experience…”

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