Imagining the Gospel Scene: One of the Healed Ones

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“Imagining the Gospel Scene” is a series from the Jesuit Media Lab. On occasional Sundays throughout this liturgical year, creators in the JML community will respond to the day’s Gospel passage through the practice of Ignatian contemplation, or what is sometimes called “imaginative prayer.”

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola invites participants to place ourselves in Gospel scenes using the imagination, relying on our senses to develop a distinctive, personal perspective on a given story — and thereby getting to know Christ better. After praying with the Gospel using their imaginations, our contributors will create a piece of art flowing from their experience — a painting, poem, short story, song, photograph or work in another medium.

Sunday, February 4, 2024: Mark 1:29-39

“Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.”

As I recreated this scene imagining myself as Simon’s mother-in-law, I began to wonder what happened next. How did the rest of my life unfold? Years later, how would being healed by Jesus have changed my life? Just as Ignatius invites us to do as a tool of discernment, I imagined myself as Simon’s mother-in-law on her deathbed, reflecting with Jesus about how the miraculous healing changed my life. Below is my conversation with Jesus.

Jesus, I do not expect a miracle to keep me healthy this time. I am dying. In these years since you helped me up, I rejoiced and I struggled. I have watched others suffer death without the miraculous healing I experienced. I must have asked, “Why me, Lord? Why was I healed?” hundreds of times over the years. I held the answer deep in my heart, sometimes barricading it so well that I lost it completely. Sometimes I forgot that I needed healing, believing maybe that I could simply will myself into wholeness. We both know that wasn’t successful.

As it turns out, I wasn’t special. You came to heal everyone. I was lucky enough though, to recognize and accept it instantly. I watched your healing of my daughter when she lost her dear Simon. How I wished you were there to take her hand and heal her broken heart in one simple motion. You know how I prayed so deeply for her to recognize your healing in her life, to surrender her pain to your love, and to recognize that you were still there for her when she couldn’t physically grasp your hand.

“The Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-law” by James Tissot, between 1886 and 1894, public domain

Eventually, you did bring her healing — though it certainly looked different from mine. With a single touch, my fever went away in an instant. When you touched her heart, it took time for her to recognize your love, to receive it and to let the devastation fall away. When you healed me, I felt like I was finally whole. I saw that wholeness in my daughter’s eyes as she let your love touch all her dark places.

Unfortunately — or maybe fortunately — it seems to me that as soon as part of you is healed, the brokenness in another area of your life or the world becomes illuminated. Of course it works that way because you never stop searching to eradicate all darkness. The darkness cannot overcome you.

In this way, I think that healing looks like the energy to carry on without hiding the brokenness. Jesus, you have taught me to proudly bring the pain and weight I carry to you, so that all of your light can break into the cracks and call me to action. It is rather brilliant how the energy to carry on translates into not just carrying on, but to being able to carry out your mission in the world. With healing comes direction to be who we were meant to be.

That is certainly true with you, Jesus, as the stories of your healings all across the land helped you show people who you truly are and how good our God is. It is true also with me. With your healing touch, I was able to whole-heartedly turn to thanksgiving and service. I now had a tangible example of your love to share with others and renewed energy to spread the word about the Messiah.

For my daughter, she was able to laugh again, to experience the joy that you gifted her with that was lost for quite a while. She was able to share your presence within her with other women who also felt so very alone. From darkness, the light multiplied.

Light cannot be contained. Your healing sparks the light within us to glow brighter and ignites the path to serve you more completely. I am “one of the healed,” and yet I continue to be broken open so that your love and light can penetrate fully and spill out into the world. Darkness doesn’t stand a chance.

In these final steps of my life, I know that with one touch I will once again be healed and live with you forever — where everyone is one of the healed ones.

Top artwork : “Healing Peter’s mother-in-law” by John Bridges, 19th century, public domain

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