By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis prayed the Angelus on Sunday with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, and reflected on the day’s Gospel (Mk 5:21-42).
The Pope said Jesus encounters two dramatic situations in this passage, which speak to us about death and disease.
“Jesus lets Himself be touched by our suffering and our death,” he said, “and He works two signs of healing to tell us that neither suffering nor death have the last word.”
Health and affections
Since illness is still at the center of our attention due to the pandemic, Pope Francis focused his remarks especially on the healing of the woman with hemorrhages.
“More than her health,” he noted, “her affections were compromised: she had blood loss and therefore, according to the mindset of the time, she was deemed impure.”
All this meant that she was marginalized and left without the possibility of a husband or a family. “She lived alone, with a wounded heart.”
The Pope pointed out that the “most serious illness in life is a lack of love, and not being able to love.”
Useless searching for love
He then reflected on how we can find healing in this story of a nameless woman who represents us all.
She had spent lots of money on various ineffective treatments which only made her condition worse. The Pope lamented that we, too, seek useless remedies for our lack of love, throwing ourselves into vain searches for success and money, even looking online.
But, he added, the woman finally chose to seek direct, physical contact with Jesus.
“The Lord waits for us to encounter Him,” said the Pope, “to open our hearts to Him, for us, like the woman, to touch His garment in order to heal. Because, by growing in intimacy with Jesus, we are healed in our affections.”
Seeking Jesus’ healing gaze
Pope Francis pointed out that Jesus responds favorably to the woman’s touch, seeking her out of the pressing crowd.
“This is Jesus’ gaze: there are many people, but He goes in search of a face and a heart full of faith. He does not look at the whole, but at the individual.”
The Pope added that Jesus “does not stop at the wounds and mistakes of the past, but goes beyond sins and prejudices” to reach the heart.
Jesus, he said, heals precisely that woman who had been rejected by everyone, praising her faith and calling her “daughter”.
Love alone heals life
Finally, Pope Francis encouraged everyone to “let Jesus look at and heal your heart.”
If we have already experienced His gaze, then we should turn to those around us who may feel wounded and alone to show them love.
“Jesus asks you for a gaze that does not stop at the outward appearance, but that goes to the heart: a gaze not judgmental, but welcoming,” he said, “Because love alone heals life.”