Crowded healing – Br. Jack Crowley

Br. Jack Crowley headshot

Br. Jack Crowley

Mark 5:21-43

One of the many things I love about Jesus is that he knew how to work a crowd. Jesus dealt with crowds all the time. Crowds to be fed, crowds to be healed, crowds trying to anoint him king, crowds trying to arrest him, and finally a crowd who crucified him. Jesus knew crowds.

These crowds were not just crowded with people, they were crowded with meaning. Everywhere Jesus went, people tried to figure out what Jesus meant. Jesus’ words, actions, and very being were jammed with meaning. The crowds around Jesus unloaded all sorts of expectations, baggage, and misunderstandings onto what Jesus meant. Yet through it all, Jesus just kept on healing.

Jesus kept on healing, because healing cuts through the crowd. Healing has the power to unite a crowd. Healing even has the power to make us love a crowd.

Our Gospel this morning is a perfect example of the power of healing. We are told by the Gospel writer that Jesus was being followed by a large crowd and that the crowd was pressing in on him. That’s a powerful image.

Try to imagine how that must have felt for Jesus. To be walking along and have this frenzied crowd all around you, pressing in on you. It really must have been jolting.

Jesus was not just going for a casual stroll, he was on his way to heal the daughter of a local religious leader. As the famous story goes, a woman who had been suffering from bleeding for twelve years was in that crowd pressing upon Jesus. She believed that if she could just touch Jesus’ cloak, she would be made well, and it worked. It worked. She was made well.

Jesus and the bleeding woman had the same focus, healing. Amid that frenzied crowd, their focus on healing united them, even if just for a moment. Yet that moment of healing was clearly life changing.

 We’ve all had some experience like this before. Some brush with the power of healing. It’s an experience that stays with you. It’s important that we hold on to those experiences and cherish them.

I can’t help but remember a bizarre knee injury I had in my senior year of college. I was just a few weeks away from graduating, and I woke up one morning in my dorm room and my left knee had swollen very badly. It was swollen so much, there were actually no curves to it. It looked as if my thigh, knee, and calf had become one big lump of flesh. I remember leaning over the side of my bed, unable to put much pressure on my leg, and thinking oh boy this isn’t good.

Eventually I ended up in a hospital room with a crowd of doctors poking and prodding me all over. I was scared because it seemed like all the doctors had the same confused look on their faces, which is something you never want to see on a doctor. It felt like every minute that passed, there was a new specialist in the hospital room and the crowd around my bedside kept growing. I was sweating profusely and my head was pounding with a fever.

I just remember growing all tense and getting more and more stressed as the room got more and more crowded and my mind raced. Then something changed. It could have been the painkillers they gave me, but I remember thinking to myself Oh God, heal me. It felt like that prayer came from the core of my being. Oh God, heal me. I remember I focused on the energy behind those words and how it made me feel. It felt like those words were becoming more than words. It was as if they had power that I could feel unfolding.

As I prayed and prayed, that crowd around my bed felt like less of a crowd. It felt more like a group of people who were focused on the same thing I was focused on. Healing. I didn’t know a single thing about them, but for a moment, I knew them.

We are all a part of a crowd. That great crowd of humanity pressing in upon Jesus. Thank God Jesus knows how to work a crowd. He knows what to do with us. He is working through us. He feels us just as we feel him.

We feel Jesus because we want to. It’s a desire deep in our hearts to be closer to God. We want to be closer to God, just as God wants to be closer to us.

We all want to feel well and to be made well. Jesus makes it clear what makes us well. Faith.

Faith is that unrelenting belief in God. That constant returning day after day to the grace of God. That belief that there is something far greater than ourselves, far greater than this crowd of ours.

We abide in our faith because it is our lifeblood. It’s the thing that keeps us going. It’s the thing that makes us feel alive.

This human journey of ours is not easy. God chose to take this journey with us, becoming incarnate and walking the same difficult path through life that we walk. We faithfully walk this difficult path, even when we are exhausted. We faithfully walk it because we know we are on the right path. We know what we are doing is good.

What we are doing is good and the world needs us. We live in a time when confusion and uncertainty are the norm. Stress seems to be in the very air around us. Such a crowded atmosphere makes it hard to breathe.

We do not shy away from these challenges. We are humbly bold and ask God for help. We look to one another, that great crowd of humanity, and try our best to work together and heal.

The Christian life is a life that demands courage and stamina. We will get wounded along the way. Yet we keep healing, and we show off our scars as proof that change is possible.

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  1. Tudy Hill on July 15, 2024 at 10:28

    I have never heard a sermon on this reading that focused on the crowds, and how they make us feel. Your own experience in the hospital is a good example of entering the presence of God (painkillers, or not!), with faith to guide us.
    Thank you, Br Jack.

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