By Tom Quiner
The Gospel of Mark 10: 46-52:
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd,
Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,
sat by the roadside begging.
On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to cry out and say,
“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
But he kept calling out all the more,
“Son of David, have pity on me.”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”
Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
Immediately he received his sight
and followed him on the way.
As I listened to this scripture passage at Mass yesterday, a specific thought hit me: Jesus heals people this very day, just as He healed Bartimaeus as described in the Gospel reading above. For two-thousand years, He has been healing regular people like you and me.
For example, Charles Anne was dying.
The 23 year old seminarian suffered advanced pulmonary Tuberculosis in an era before antibiotics were discovered. In fact, Tuberculosis was not curable until 1946 when the antibiotic Streptomycin was invented.
On the night he was convinced he was about to die, he did something very specific that saved his life.
Sister Louise of St. Germain suffered from stomach ulcers from 1913 to 1916. She was abruptly cured when she did the exact same thing Charles Anne did.
Gabrielle Trimusi of Parma, Italy, suffered from a different malady: arthritis of the knee and Tubercular lesions on the vertebrae. She was abruptly healed through the same course of treatment as the two mentioned above.
Finally, there was the case of Maria Pellemans of Belgium. She suffered from pulmonary Tuberculosis. It had spread to her intestines. Remember that back in the 1920s, this was most likely a death sentence.
You guessed it. Ms. Pellemans pursued the same treatment as the other three sufferers mentioned above and received instant healing.
Were they healed through Divine Intervention? Yes, but there’s more to the story than that. They asked a very specific person to pray for them, a young woman by the name of Therese of Lisieux, also known as “The Little Flower.”
For the uninitiated, this young lady from whom the four people above asked for prayers of intercession, was dead.
The Little Flower, now known as St. Therese, died in 1897 of Tuberculosis.
One of the beautiful mysteries of the Catholic faith is the power of prayers of intercession. Some Protestants accept this notion, some don’t. My agnostic and atheistic readers think the concept is nuts.
And yet we keep bumping into these miracles.
In the 1920s, the Catholic Church had a number of requirements for sainthood. A saint must have lived his or her life with extraordinary holiness and sanctity. After death, they need to perform a number of miracles to prove that God works through them.
The four healings described above were investigated by the Church for their veracity. The Church invests tremendous time and resources vetting miracles. Here is the written testimony of the doctor who attended Mr. Anne:
“The destroyed and ravaged lungs had been replaced by new lungs, carrying out their normal functions and about to revive the entire organism. A slight emaciation persists, which will disappear within a few days under a regularly assimilated diet.”
As for Ms. Pellemans, she suffered from the same disease that killed St. Therese. She visited Therese’s grave and prayed for her to intercede on her behalf. Her physician, Dr. Vandensteene, was astounded by her sudden cure and testified as follows:
“I found Miss Pellemans literally transformed. This young woman, out of breath from the least movement, moves about without fatigue; she eats everything given to her, with a very good appetite. The abdomen presents no tender point, when formerly the least pressure produced severe pain. All symptoms of tubercular ulceration of the intestine have disappeared.”
It seems to me that modern man gets confused about these stories. They think it takes blind faith to believe that a nun who died more than a century ago could be involved in the life of the living today.
Christian theologian, Greg Koukl, says that they’ve got it all wrong, that there is nothing “blind” about faith:
“Faith [on this mistaken view] is religious wishful thinking, a desperate lunge in the dark when all evidence is against you. Take the leap of faith and hope for luck. Curiously, none of the biblical writers understood faith this way. Jesus tells his naysayers, ‘Though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me’ (John 10:38 NASB, emphasis added). Peter reminds the crowd on Pentecost that Jesus was ‘a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs’ (Acts 2:22 NASB).
In other words, God understands our skepticism. That is why He periodically intercedes in the world in ways that defy nature. The Catholic Church is very, very careful before they give their imprimatur to alleged miraculous occurrences.
Mr. Koukl is clear, faith is logical:
“So let’s set the record straight. Faith is not the opposite of reason. The opposite of faith is unbelief. And reason is not the opposite of faith. The opposite of reason is irrationality. Do some Christians have irrational faith? Sure. Do some skeptics have unreasonable unbelief? You bet. It works both ways.”
Our faith doesn’t depend on signs. But God does sometimes send us signs, and sometimes they are in the form of miracles that flow from the prayers of the saints. By all accounts, The Little Flower is a particularly active saint.
When it comes, some people refuse to believe that this inexplicable “interruption of nature” can have a Divine Cause.
Why? Why does the skeptic work so hard to protect his unbelief?
The Little Flower pursued a simple path with her faith that includes a loving concern for the unbelievers:
“I strive to work by faith though bereft of its consolations.
I have made more acts of Faith in this last year than during all the rest of my life. On each fresh occasion of combat, when the enemy desires to challenge me, I conduct myself valiantly: knowing that to fight a duel is an unworthy act, I turn my back upon the adversary without ever looking him in the face; then I run to my Jesus and tell Him I am ready to shed every drop of blood in testimony of my belief that there is a Heaven, I tell Him I am glad to be unable to contemplate, while on earth, with the eyes of the soul, the beautiful Heaven that awaits me so He will deign to open it for eternity to poor unbelievers.”
Do you have doubts about God? Are you dealing with some major issues in your life? Why don’t you ask St. Therese to pray for you? A whole bunch of people tell us she has God’s ear.
The Gospel of Mark 10: 46-52 is timeless.