July 1, 2018
Untouchable People, Friendships, & Love
Today's Gospel was about the woman with the hemorrhage. You know the story: for twelve years this woman had suffered but she had heard of Jesus the Nazarene. She believed that if she could just touch the hem of his cloak she could be healed.
Our pastor preached a beautiful homily then, first explaining how the woman would have been considered unclean, untouchable for all those years. He then told the story of an elderly woman at his last parish who greeted him after each Mass with a giant bear hug. Father always hugged her back, with an equal amount of gusto, and when he was reassigned she told him that single Sunday hug was the only hug she received every week.
Father explained how so many people walk around unloved - untouchable -and he encouraged us to look around us to see who they are in our lives. He asked us to reach out to them, include them, love them. He encouraged us to hug them.
His homily really affected me and I can't shake it. Perhaps I was primed for this lesson. I've been catching up on the Certifiably Catholic podcast and the episode "How to love those hard-to-love people" really impacted me as well. I listened to it. Turned it off and pondered their words in my heart, considering if there are people I could love better. And then I listened to it again.
Do you ever listen to and think about an idea in such a way that if feels like you're picking up the words, turning them over in your hands, and examining them from each angle? It feels slow and almost like twilight.
I know there are people in my life who are hard to love. I know I often pretend I am too busy to love them because that's just easier and in many ways I am still a selfish jerk.
But as I turned this all over in my heart and mind I realized that loving them is an opportunity for my Grinch-sized heart to grow. That might sound lovely but I know it will hurt. It will be full of awkwardness and pain and frustration and relinquishing again and again my will, my preferences, my comfort. Slaying the ugly beasts of laziness and selfishness is a long, ongoing battle.
In his homily Father said that we could bring healing to the hearts and lives of the people who are broken and wounded and I couldn't help but think that by choosing to love someone God really would invite us to be brought into a deeper intimacy with His Sacred Heart. And certainly as that happens I will love more joyfully so that the friendship becomes a reward itself, at least that is my hope.
I am certain there are people who think I'm hard-to-love and want nothing to do with me and I don't think any of this is to say that God is calling me to be best friends with a hard-to-love person. I mean, maybe He is, but I think this is more about changing perceptions, opening hearts, and appreciating people for who they are. I think it is first and foremost about love. It is about God.
But I'm still turning this all over. If you have any thoughts I'd love to hear them.