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Enduring the Wounds

Memorial of Saints Joachim & Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: Jeremiah 14:17-22

Let my eyes stream with tears
day and night, without rest,
Over the great destruction which overwhelms
the virgin daughter of my people,
over her incurable wound.
If I walk out into the field,
look! those slain by the sword;
If I enter the city,
look! those consumed by hunger.
Even the prophet and the priest
forage in a land they know not.

Have you cast Judah off completely?
Is Zion loathsome to you?
Why have you struck us a blow
that cannot be healed?
We wait for peace, to no avail;
for a time of healing, but terror comes instead.
We recognize, O LORD, our wickedness,
the guilt of our fathers;
that we have sinned against you.
For your name’s sake spurn us not,
disgrace not the throne of your glory;
remember your covenant with us, and break it not.
Among the nations’ idols is there any that gives rain?
Or can the mere heavens send showers?
Is it not you alone, O LORD,
our God, to whom we look?
You alone have done all these things.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 79:8, 9, 11 AND 13

R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

Gospel: Matthew 13:36-43

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the Evil One,
and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

NAB

Okay, show of hands: How many among us have ever prayed for healing, but felt as if our cries fell on deaf ears?

Having traversed my twenties and marched well into my thirties I feel as though I’ve come to terms with some of my own wounds and finally just begun to realize the simple truth that no matter how stellar we might appear on the outside, we all have wounds that gnaw at our spirit and keep us from flourishing in our relationships with the Lord and with each other. They come in every shape and size and depth, these wounds: that time when we really hurt a friend; when we lost a family member; when we received criticism of something we had poured our heart and soul into; when we endured an attack at work or on Facebook or (dare I say it) in the Church community; when we got lost in a past sin that just lingers and eats us up. Sometimes even the most unintentional of comments, when we are doing the best job we possibly can, just sting and leave us with a wound of bitterness and resentment that can eat us up for what feels like eons. Whether we lived in Jeremiah’s time or in 2016, it makes no difference. Humanity is frail. In a spiritual sense, we truly are the “walking wounded.”

Jeremiah’s writing cuts straight to the heart of the discouragement and abandonment we feel when our wounds overwhelm us and we feel far away from Him:

Why have you struck us a blow that cannot be healed? 

It’s like Jeremiah took that phrase right out of my journal, circa 2002, 2011, or 2015: Why can’t You just heal me? Why does this have to be so hard? Where are you in all of this?

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that it’s in the asking that the healing happens. It is in the turning of our faces and our hearts to God, like Jeremiah did, that our hearts are softened and we can receive the rain of grace and mercy.

For most of us, healing doesn’t happen in an instant. Just like our physical bodies need time to recover from illness or injury, our spiritual and emotional wounds also take time. If healing did happen with the snap of our fingers, perhaps our hearts wouldn’t be prompted to return to the Father when we need to most. Rather than despairing over our wounds, let us turn our faces to Him, and trust that healing is happening even when we can’t see it.

Take a moment today to reflect on a wound of your past that you’ve endured and come to see our Lord’s mercy on the other side. Offer thanks for your own healing, and offer your day for someone in the thick of their own woundedness.

photo credit

Karen Schultz is a Birth Doula who hails from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, where she is often found in or near one of them. You can find out more about her here.

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