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Faith “draws” graces from the Lord

On many occasions, according to the Gospel accounts, the Lord worked miracles, healing the sick, casting out demons and forgiving sins, and after granting these graces he explained to the person in question: “Your faith has saved you”. This is what happened in the healing of the lepers (Lk 17:19), with the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:28), with the blind beggar (Mk 10:52), among others.

But what is particularly striking is the episode of the healing of the hemorrhoid. Once cured, Jesus says to her, as he did to the others: “Your faith has saved you”, but the difference with the rest of the miraculous healings is that here Jesus works the miracle without being aware of it: the faith of this woman “wrests”, we could say, the required grace from him.

This woman had suffered from her illness for twelve years and had tried everything to be healed, spending all her possessions (“she had spent all her possessions for nothing” Mk 5:26). In other words, she had no hope except in the power of Jesus Christ. This is why her faith is great and is able to draw the grace she seeks from the Lord, because in spite of her long wait and the skepticism she might have been after having tried everything and in spite of all her suffering (“she had suffered much with many physicians…getting worse” Mk 5:26), she puts her faith in Jesus Christ. “If I can touch even his garments, I shall be saved”, says St. Mark (5:28).

Matthew (9:20) says that what she touched was only “the fringe of his garment”. She knew that she needed no more to obtain God’s grace. And this is also why her faith is great, because in order to touch even the fringe of the robe, she had to disregard her own impurity and unworthiness. The book of Leviticus (15:19), in fact, prescribed that every woman who suffered from an issue of blood remained impure for seven days, until the issue had ceased. To be unclean meant that everything with which she came in contact was also unclean: people, furniture, clothes. And since she had been suffering from her disease for twelve years, we can imagine the repudiation she would have suffered, for not only could she not have contact with people, but people could not have contact with any object she touched. That is why the act of touching the border of the Lord’s mantle, demands great courage, for if someone discovered her, she would be accused of having left the Lord impure. This is probably why she sought to touch the mantle without being seen (“she approached from behind” Lk 8:44), not to make the Lord impure (for if he worked miracles with divine power, the divinity itself could not remain impure), but to avoid scandal. And for this reason, when the Lord demanded to know who had touched him, she “came forward in fear and trembling” (Mk 5:33).

And the effect is, as we said, the grace of God: “Someone touched me, for I felt a power go out from me,” says Jesus (Lk 8:46).

The Lord permits that sufferings afflict us, because they serve to bring us back to the one thing necessary. Difficulties make us place our hopes in God alone, and test our faith in his omnipotence, making it grow.

May this miracle of the Lord serve us to copy the formula of the hemorrhagic woman in our prayer: to draw near recognizing our total indigence, as she had lost her goods; without allowing our unworthiness to be an obstacle to imploring his mercy, as she drew near to the Lord in spite of her ritual impurity; and placing all our faith and hope in the contact we establish with God through prayer, even though it may seem to us that the Lord turns his back on us, seeking saving contact with him, even if only by touching the fringe of his cloak. This formula drew the grace she sought from Our Lord. Let us seek to reproduce it in order to obtain abundant heavenly graces.

Fr. Andrés Francisco Torres, IVE

Prayer to St. Joseph for Priests

San-JOse (1)

O glorious patriarch Saint Joseph,  tutelary father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on this day I pray to You for priests.

Like you, they were taken from among men to serve God.

Help them to imitate your great faith, your perfect chastity,  your total dedication to the service of God without regard for the consequences, your humility, your constant work, your poverty, your obedience, all your virtues and your heroic yes.

Help them to imitate you and your Son Jesus in everything.

Help them to be good priests in the eyes of God, help them in their solitude and in their moments of temptation.

Accompany them in all the difficult moments of their life and in their moments of joy as well.

Defend them from all those who would do them physical or moral harm, as you defended Our Lord Jesus Christ, until they reach the Kingdom of Heaven to enjoy with you forever the presence of God our Father.

Amen.

St. John Paul II: “Annunciation means vocation”

Address of the Holy Father John Paul II to the Pontifical Roman Seminary, on the Feast of the Annunciation.

We find ourselves on the solemn day of the Annunciation. Annunciation means vocation.

Indeed, this is the day on which her unique vocation was revealed to the Virgin of Nazareth. The day on which the Virgin gave a succinct answer after knowing her vocation: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.

The mystery of the Annunciation has its own continuity; even though it is unique, it always has analogies in the life of the Church; because the life of the Church is realized through vocations, through different vocations. Christian life is a vocation, and in Christian life there are different vocations. There is also a priestly vocation that can be compared especially with the vocation of the Virgin of Nazareth. There is also the religious vocation with which the same comparison can be made. Thus, we can say that the seminary is an environment where the mystery of the Annunciation is repeated in the life of the Church with special intensity: it is the house of the Annunciation.

Here come those who have already received their annunciation, those who have already known the will of God and have given the first response: Here I am, I am the servant of the Lord. And they come here because in the seminary their response must mature, here it must become more rooted, here they must identify more with it. He who have received his vocation must identify himself more and more with this vocation. This is the fundamental purpose of the seminary. This is why the day of the Annunciation must be celebrated in the seminaries, and in the Roman Seminary in a special way.

I am personally grateful to have been able to take part in this commemoration of the Solemnity of the Annunciation in our Roman Seminary. I am grateful to Providence, to Our Lady and also to you who have invited me to this celebration of a Marian Solemnity so close to the seminary, to its very nature, to its deep purpose. I wish you, my dear friends, that your path, your vocational journey, may be always similar to this brief journey of the Annunciation. I hope that Our Lady will help you to imitate her inner sensitivity to the Word of God and her unique, simple and decisive response: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

(March 25, 1981)