What if?

Since converting to Catholicism, there have been times when I wanted to leave my parish.  The reasons for wanting to leave have included the music at Mass wasn’t great, the curriculum for the Parish School of Religion (PSR) was less than inspiring, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) was boring, and the leadership of our parish was making decisions I didn’t agree with.  

But leaving was impossible, not because there aren’t numerous other churches in the town where I live and not because I wouldn’t love to sleep in on Sunday morning and not because I don’t have friends whose kids would love to welcome my kids to their Sunday school.  I could never leave the Catholic Church because Jesus is there.  Jesus is there, body, blood, soul and divinity.

The source and summit of the Catholic faith is the Eucharist, the body and blood of our Lord, which is consecrated during the sacrifice of the Mass and distributed to Catholics during communion.  Eucharist means “thanksgiving” or to “give thanks” which is exactly what we are called to do as we approach the altar to receive Jesus during communion.

I am convinced the people who are leaving the Catholic Church do not believe Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, because if they did, how could they leave?  After having opened my heart to the truth found in scripture and tradition, the Eucharist has this magnetic pull on my heart.  It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe.  I literally feel pulled to the church, I feel pulled to sit with Jesus in the sanctuary or in the Mercy Chapel during Adoration.  I need Him.  I need to be there with Him.  

When I first entered the doors of St. Joan of Arc after realizing God was calling me to convert, my heart felt at rest, completely at peace.  The feeling of “I’m home” is the only way to describe it.  I believe this is because Jesus isn’t only present in spirit, He is present, FULLY present, in the Eucharist.  

I have been healed spiritually, emotionally, and physically by the mere presence of the Eucharist and by trusting in the mercy and grace God extends to those who faithfully receive Him.  I have seen men, women and children brought to their knees in His presence.   Even if your mind can’t comprehend that this tiny piece of bread could be Jesus’ body, your soul can.  Your soul knows, and if you open your heart and free your soul to accept the truth, your faith will soar to heights you never thought possible.

The next time you are at Mass and you witness the consecration of the Blessed Sacrament, ask yourself, “What if?”.  What if it really is Jesus?  What if Jesus left this most intimate gift to be with us here in this life?  What if this gift would provide the grace needed to sustain a holy life?  What if this gift could change the world?  I believe it can.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” – John 6:51 – The Bread of Life Discourse, John 6:22-71

“I desire but this one grace, and long to be consumed like a burning candle in His holy Presence every moment of the life that remains to me. For that I would be willing, I think, to suffer all the pains imaginable till judgment day, if only I should not have to leave His sacred presence. My only motive would be to be consumed in honoring Him and to acknowledge that burning love He shows us in this wonderful Sacrament. Here His love holds Him captive till the end of time. It is of this one can truly say, ‘Love triumphs, love enjoys, Love finds in God its joys.'” – St. Margaret Mary

“The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time that you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in heaven, and will help bring about an everlasting peace on earth.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

 

Fogive us our Trespasses

How many times in your life have you been wronged by someone? Was the wrong caused by someone you know or by a stranger who said or did something? Can you even count how many times someone’s hurtful words or actions made you angry, sad, or discouraged? I know I can’t.  

I have been wronged, greatly wronged by family members, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers. For years I thought, “How could that person say that to me?” or “I tried my best, but I guess it wasn’t good enough.” or “Why would a stranger say something that hurtful to someone they don’t even know?”. My first thought was always about ME. They don’t know ME. How dare they say or do that to ME. What gives them the right to treat ME that way.

The one thing I never thought of was them.

What happened to that person over the course of their life that caused them to feel this way? What did someone say or do, or better yet, neglect to say or do to that person that would allow them to treat someone else with disrespect? When you really look into someone’s heart, you become overwhelmed with mercy for them. You realize their heart needs healed.

Over the last few months, I realized I am that stranger, I am that family member, I am that friend, co-worker or acquaintance. I am that person who has inadvertently hurt so many people over the course of my life. I have said and done things that were wrong and walked away having no idea the lasting impact a few words could have. After turning my finger around and pointing it at my heart, I recognize my heart has holes, God sized holes, that need healing, and I can only find healing in Him.

Forgiveness is hard. But forgiveness opens your heart to freedom from the lies, the hatred, and the wasted energy. I ask for your forgiveness today. If there is anything I have ever said or done that has hurt you, please forgive me. Have mercy on me a sinner.

As our Lord Jesus Christ said as he hung on the cross, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”. Who can you forgive today? Who can you ask for forgiveness today?

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” – Matthew 6:12

You are Never Alone in your Suffering

“In everything give thanks.”  This is a hard quote to follow.  So many times in our lives, we don’t feel like giving thanks.  We are hurting in one way or another and we want it to stop.  Some of us, during the course of our suffering will turn away from God.  We will accuse Him of making us suffer or allowing us to suffer.  How could a good God allow ME to go through all of this hurt?  It is in these moments, that we are called to turn our eyes toward the cross and give thanks.

Remember his words “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.  Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will” Mark 14:36.  God calls us to unite our suffering with his.  Look at the cross and know that he will lead you with his gentle hand through what seems like impossible circumstances.  

As we gaze at the crucifix and see God hanging on the cross, hands and feet pierced by nails, ribs showing through bloodied skin, knees scraped, His side pierced by a lance, His head bleeding from a crown of thorns, and His face so sorrowful, it is a reminder of the supreme sacrifice and suffering Jesus paid for us.

Jesus, the God-man, fully divine and fully human, came to earth to live among us and experience what we as humans experience.  In his short life on earth, He experienced every kind of pain and suffering known to man.

Early in His ministry, the spirit lead Jesus to the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting.  It was at the moment of His breaking point that the devil came to Him.  Knowing how hungry Jesus must be, the devil tempted Him with food.  Imagine the hunger; pains, cramping and rumbling.  I imagine Jesus thinking (as we humans would) “Please just turn one of those rocks into bread for me to eat.  I am so hungry and weak.  I can’t go on anymore.”  Instead His response is “One cannot live on bread alone.”  Next, the devil tempts him with calling down God’s power to save Him, the power to end His suffering.  But again, Jesus does not give in to the devil.  Instead, he responds quoting the ancient scriptures “It is written, you shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”  Lastly, the devil tempts Him with riches and kingdoms.  Jesus could have everything if he would only bow down to the devil.  But Jesus responds by saying “It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”In all three of these temptations, God is laying out a plan for us to respond to suffering.  

We can not live by worldly desires alone.  We must turn to God as He will always provide a way for us.  We should not always expect the Lord to make everything “good” in our lives.  We should not put Him to the test; always wanting happiness and never to suffer.  Many times we ask God “Why me?, Why have you left me here alone?, I thought you were all powerful, why can’t you fix this?”  Our focus should always remain on the goodness of the Lord and the trust that He will guide us even during times of great suffering.  We need to trust that God would never allow suffering unless a greater good could come from it.  Could God stop our suffering?  Yes, but God allows it in order for us to draw closer to Him, to press into Him and realize we can’t “do” this life without Him.

Let’s look at the life of Jesus during his active ministry.  Jesus felt every emotion we have felt; anger, betrayal, hurt, chastisement, sadness, joy, love, empathy, and suffering.  He lost his best friend Lazarus.  He wept upon seeing the suffering Lazarus’ friends and family were feeling after Lazarus’ death.  Yes, Jesus wept.  Jesus wept because He understands your grief at the loss of a loved one.  He knows the gut wrenching pain you are experiencing at the thought of never seeing that person again and He wants to help you through it.

Now, fast forward to the Last Supper.  This is where His suffering greatly intensifies.  Not only is he betrayed by one of the twelve who hands him over to his accusers, but he is also betrayed by his most loyal follower, the one who will be called “The Rock”.  Facing certain death, beating, and scourging, Jesus needed a friend to be there to comfort him, but instead his friend ran away and denied even knowing him.  

Imagine how Jesus must have felt.  Now, imagine when you feel you are alone in your suffering that God is there with you.  Jesus is holding your hand, wiping your tears, and propping you up to take the next step.  He knows exactly how you feel; the sadness, the abandonment, and the loss.  He is there to rescue you.  You only need to trust in Him.

Have you ever faced rejection?  Have you ever felt that you can’t do anything right?  Have you ever felt that the world was against you, that no matter what you did, you could never rise above your current circumstances?  Jesus felt that too!  Imagine being with him before the Sanhedrin.  The lies and accusations being flung at him.  Spit landing on his face.  Someone striking his cheek.  Another person calling him profane names and shoving a stick in his side.  Jesus falling to the ground and being kicked by an angry stranger.  Imagine rolling on the ground, writhing in pain, only to catch a glimpse of your mother weeping and unable to help you.  What must a man feel like experiencing such horrible degrading circumstances?  If you can relate, Jesus can too.  Jesus knows your pain.  He knows your frustration.  He knows the depth of your sorrow.  He knows your soul and he loves you with a love that can calm every pain and quiet every voice.

Have you ever felt physical pain; excruciating pain from some kind of injury or chronic pain from some kind of physical ailment?  Is the pain sometimes so bad you just want to give in, you just want to give up?  Jesus felt this too.  In the garden as he was praying, the pain of knowing what he was about to go through was so great that he began to sweat blood.  Can you imagine knowing that your skin was about to be ripped from your body during the scourging, that your skull would be impaled with thorns that would be beaten into your head, that you would have to carry a 300 pound cross to your death, that your hands and feed would be pierced by a thick rusty nail, that your side would be ripped open by a lance, that your shoulders would become dislocated and your skin would burn from the hot sun as you hung on a cross naked and gasping for air as your lungs began to fill with fluid?  That is pain. That is agony.  Jesus has been where you are.  He knows physical pain of every kind.

Jesus provided salvation for the world through his suffering.  During every step of his passion, he saw YOUR face and he loved you so much that he trusted in God’s will.  He was willing to suffer that much for YOU and for me!  And he would do it all again.  He would do it every day of His life, over and over again for you.  He loves you that much!

Allow Him to come down and meet you where you are.  Let him reach down to the lowliness you are feeling and pull you up to meet him.  He is the only one who can save you.  He would never reject you.  He loves you unconditionally.  Feel his love enter your heart and allow that love to penetrate your soul.  Trust in Him.  Trust in his infinite love for you.  Trust that His love is enough to carry you through any type of suffering.  Jesus, I trust in you!  Jesus, I trust in you!  Jesus, I trust in you!

“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.  In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” – John 16:33  

My Fish Bowl

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a Facebook Live event at the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) conference by Father Mike Schmitz.  Since then, I have listened to the recording at least five times and have forwarded it on to many women in my life.  The talk was THAT GOOD.  (In case you want to watch it, here’s the link; https://www.facebook.com/focuscatholic/videos/10156231444499887/.)

I have struggled throughout my life to find authentic virtuous friendships.  I have been in and out of groups of women who left me feeling alone and unfulfilled.  It is rare in this life that we find friends who do not judge, who love you even in spite of your faults, who don’t gossip about you when you walk out the door, and will be there no matter what.  Over the past five years, my friendships have completely changed.  Because of my new found deep faith in Jesus Christ, I lost many friends and the road become very lonely.  By focusing on Him, challenging myself to extend invitations, and striving for virtue in my own life, God brought women of virtue into my life in abundance.

Finding true authentic friendship requires recognizing God in the other person.  It also requires stepping out of your comfort zone and inviting someone into the bowl.  It’s hard to invite someone into friendship, but when you recognize God, your soul opens and begins to become vulnerable.  That vulnerability is what leads to a deeper friendship and the beginning of a walk together through life.

I want to share the stories of my friendships with the women in my fish bowl. I will race with these women to the end because they have loved me, faults and all, and continue to strengthen my belief in God with every encounter.  My friendships with these women took time to build.  It wasn’t an instant friendship, but the effort put forth by each of us has touched my life in immeasurable ways.  I have given these amazing women their own “name” based on what they mean to my life.

My Racing Partner – To say that my  friend Sarah and I are soul sisters is an understatement.  “She completes me” (yes, I had to throw something corny in).  God brought her into my life exactly when I needed it.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my dear friend.  She is a rock.  She gives me hope in this world and in working toward eternity.  I recently told her that when I first met her I never would have imagined how close we would become.  She concurred.  She shares all of my struggles and successes.  We are both deeply in love with our faith and the Catholic church.  I admire her and the choices she has made through the most dire of circumstances.  I thank God for bringing her into my life.  She has taught me more than she will ever know.

My Life Changer – When I first met my friend Jenny, she had just experienced the tragic loss of the love of her life and father of her three beautiful daughters.  I didn’t know Jenny before the accident.  I arranged meals for her family following the tragedy and one night when I delivered my meal, we began to talk.  The friendship that bloomed from such horrible circumstances has taught me so much about life, suffering, picking-up-the-pieces, strength, courage, and finding love again.  At the end of my days, I will look back on this friendship as one of the most important relationships of my life.

My Fellow Convert – When I met Rebecca, she had just moved to my neighborhood.  Jesus brought us together by fate.  She has built me up when I am feeling low, she has reminded me just how much Jesus can change a soul, and she gives me hope that no matter the circumstances, your faith in Jesus is all you need.

My “Good for the soul” friend – Last Saturday I spent the morning over coffee with Bridget.  We hadn’t seen each other in several months, but we picked up right where we left off.  Laughter is the key to our friendship.  We respect each other, we laugh at each other’s faults, and we love one another for what each of us brings to the friendship.  Bridget has been through some very difficult times, but through it all, her faith remains strong.  She has faith that it will all work out and I love that in her.  Seeing her does my soul good because I never smile as much as I do when I’m with her.

My Church Buddy – Jen is my sister in Christ.  Our “happy place” is the church.  I have known Jen for years, but it wasn’t until my conversion that she and I grew to be great friends.  We both love kids and dream of the day that every child has an Encounter with our Lord.  She is my sounding board, my confidante, and the one person that challenges me to give more of myself.

My Best Friend – And of course, my mom.  She brought me into this world.  She has loved me like no other and she has been an incredible witness to faith in God.  She worked tirelessly when we were children to ensure we made it to church every week.  She planted the seeds in our hearts that brought us back to Jesus even after straying for many years.  Without my mom, I would be nothing.  She is my best friend.  Nothing more needs to be said except, I love you mom.

The women in my “fish bowl” are diverse, few of them are friends with each other, and most of them jumped into the bowl through the most unlikely of circumstances.   They are my witnesses in this life.  We walk together through good times and the most unbelievable struggles.  I may not see one of them for a month or two, but when we are together, our souls speak.

My “bowl” runneth over with love for these women who I never would have connected with had it not been for Jesus.  Changing my focus from the things of this world to focusing on Him and the life He wants for me has healed every hole in my heart and has filled my life with such joy.  Joy that I share with these women every day.

If you are struggling with finding authentic virtuous friendships, you are not alone.  I too was there.  Look for God.  Let Him lead you on your journey, and when you find someone, jump into the bowl together and glorify God with your every encounter.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.”

A Glimpse of Heaven

Yesterday, while I was reviewing some religious content for a project I have been working on at church, I stumbled across a video called “VITA” by Father John Burns (http://www.ahavaproductions.com/vita/).  After watching the video, I felt this overwhelming sense of joy.  Joy in knowing that I am working towards an inconceivable goal; heaven.

I wrote about “my glimpse of heaven” a little over a year ago when on retreat at Gethsemani Abbey.  When I was on retreat, I experienced God in a way I had never before and I may never again until I see Him again in eternity.  I hope I can convey the feelings that I had in words.

The retreats at Gethsemani are silent.  During my retreat, I spent five days with approximately thirty people, complete strangers, in silence.  The silence allowed me to hear God’s voice.  God spoke to me in many ways that week showing me the beauty of His creation and what life with Him can be.  It was through my experience at Gethsemani that I believe God gave me a glimpse of heaven.

While on retreat, every day, seven times a day, you meet in the sanctuary for prayer with others on retreat.  You hear the wonderful church bells calling you to prayer.  No matter where you are; in your room, in the dining hall, taking a hike, or sitting under a tree, you are called to worship.  You arrive in silence.  You see the monks arrive, one by one, to take their seats and prepare themselves to praise God with beautiful chants and prayer.  They sing at a slow pace that is almost hypnotic.  This pace allows the words to penetrate your soul.  The prayers are simple and beautiful.

Morning prayer is followed by Mass.  Mass at Gethsemani is unhurried.  You enter the sanctuary early to sit in silence and prepare to enter into the most intimate relationship of your life.  When Mass begins, the tune of the hymn is simple but sweet to the ear.  It is sung at a slow pace for you to really enjoy and listen to the words while lifting them to His ear in praise.  Even the responses are said slowly.

The first mass I attended felt strange.  I was done saying the response while the monks were still on the first few words.  As I started to slow my responses and really listen to the words and their meaning, I felt a deep sense of love for the liturgy come over me.  When it came time for the Gloria and the Lord’s Prayer, they were sung slowly and purposefully.  This was like angelic voices being lifted to heaven.  The slow, intentional voices of men who have dedicated their entire lives to living as Christ lived was like the sweetest choir of angels surrounding our Lord in heaven.  For the first time in my life, I understood Mass and how every Sunday when we are celebrating Mass, Jesus and all of the Saints are in heaven doing the same thing. We are in union with our most high God and all of the angels and saints.

On the last day of the retreat, I was overwhelmed with love.  Love for God, love for the monks, and love for the others on retreat.  It is a kind of love this is difficult to explain.  It is the purest kind of love I have ever experienced.  I didn’t know any of their names, races, how much money they had, sexual preference, political persuasion, etc.  All I knew was that seven times a day we were united in one goal; loving Christ with the utmost of our being.  I miss the monks and the others on retreat.  Many times, if I am feeling low, I sit and remember their faces.  I recall each of them and the love I have for them.  I remember the people I sat next to in prayer and at Mass: each one uniquely wonderful, created in the image and likeness of God.  I left changed.  I left longing for heaven, longing to see God’s face.  I am home sick for sure.  Home sick for the day I too will meet our heavenly Father face to face.  I believe the experience I had at Gethsemani is a glimpse of what heaven is like; pure, unchanging, unconditional love found in perfect communion with God and His beloved.  A love that is hard for humans to comprehend because it is such goodness and mercy beyond our understanding.

I struggle to express what my encounter was like because in this life, we will never achieve the kind of love waiting for us on the other side.  Heaven is like a mother nursing her child where two become one with life giving food.  It’s like the wedding night when a husband and wife join their bodies together in oneness and love.  It’s like pure joy that radiates from a child’s face when they discover something new and wonderful.  It’s like the sweet smell of a baby’s head when they first get out of the bath.  Heaven is pure, perfect, unblemished, sweet, joy filled love.  That is what we are working towards.  Heaven makes every moment of every day worth it when we are growing closer to being with Him in eternity.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2

What are you looking for?

Today’s gospel message (John 1:35-42) has so many captivating parts to it.  First, John the baptist, who has just baptized Christ, the Son of God, says to Andrew and another disciple, “Behold, the Lamb of God” as Jesus is walking by.  He uses the word behold, not just “Hey look” or “see”, he calls us to behold Jesus.

When you think of the word behold, what comes to mind?  Behold makes me think of giving birth to my children.  When I first looked into their eyes, held them to my breast, and examined each and every inch of their bodies, there was such awe, magnificence, and wonder.  That is how John the Baptist asks us to look upon Jesus.  He recognizes that this man is special and should be revered.  By using these words, Andrew and the other disciple are drawn to Jesus.

It’s at this moment, that Jesus turns to them and asks “What are you looking for?”.  Have you ever asked yourself that same question?  What are you looking for?  We are all searching for something.  We all use things of this world to fill the void in our heart, the longing we feel that causes us to search and search throughout our lives.  But Andrew, acknowledging that there is something different to be found with Jesus, asks where Jesus is staying and then goes with him to learn more about this man, the Lamb of God.  And Jesus’ response…perfect.  He looks at Andrew and says “Come, and you will see.”

Andrew follows Jesus.  He sits with Him all day.  He listens to Him, and Andrew realizes something that will change his life.  He realizes Jesus is the Messiah, the long awaited one who will provide salvation to the world.  What must Jesus have said?  What must he have done that would have allowed Andrew to realize this after only a few hours?  Jesus spoke as God would speak; perfect, sinless, lovely, honest, and full of humility and truth.  How many conversations do we have these days that fit into that category?

Andrew came, saw, listened and found the Messiah.  It’s at this moment that Andrew jumps up and runs to find his brother and evangelizes Simon to come and see for himself, the long awaited Messiah.  Simon follows Andrew and before Simon even has a chance to speak to Jesus, Jesus turns to Simon and says “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” – which is translated Peter.  Jesus identifies Peter as “The Rock”.  Jesus knows Peter, inside and out, and He knows the gift Peter has been given by God the Father.  The gift that will bring the world the Church that Christ founded.

The next time your heart feels empty, you are struggling to find meaning, or you find yourself filling your life with things of this world, ask yourself  “What are you looking for?”.  That is your chance to “Come, and you will see”.  Come to Jesus, open scripture, let Him speak to your heart, and let Him provide your heart the salvation it truly needs.  Then go tell everyone you know “Look what I found!”.  When you find Jesus, you will never want to leave.  Jesus has already found you.  He calls you by name.  He has given you a gift.  Go out and use it.

 

 

 

Jesus Heals Jarius’ Daughter

Today, as I sit watching the sun peak through the clouds after a night of ice and snow, I wanted to share a meditation/reflection that I wrote for our youth group.  This type of meditation is a great way to open your kids’ hearts to our Lord through biblical passages.  Have them close their eyes and imagine they are there.  What do they hear?  What do they see?  What does the air smell like?  Who is there with them?  After you finish reading the passage, have your child sit in silence with Jesus to see what He has to reveal to him.

Based on Mark 6:21-43

It’s a beautiful day, sunny, warm, just a few wispy clouds in the sky.  There is just a small breeze that keeps you from getting too hot as you walk with your parents following a crowd down toward the sea shore.  As you walk, the crowd gets larger and larger.  There is so much excitement as the people in the crowd keep talking about a teacher who can heal people, a teacher who is coming to see those gathered here today!  

Just as you reach the shore and see the teacher getting out of the boat, a man pushes past you.  He is dressed in simple clothes, but you can tell he is important.  Your mom recognizes him as someone from the synagogue.  His face is sad, so distraught.  He seems anxious and scared.  He is seeking help from the teacher.  He reaches the teacher and falls to the teachers’ feet.  Begging, pleading with him.  His voice is full of anxiety.  You look around.  Others in the crowd are starting to look concerned.  What is happening?  Why is this man under such stress?  His face, his voice, he needs help.  Finally, he speaks to the teacher.  “My daughter is at the point of death.  Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.”

Now you understand.  He is fearful of his daughter’s life.  He truly believes the teacher can save her.  The crowd becomes more agitated.   The teacher takes the man by the hand and leads him through the crowd.  They are talking.  The man is pointing in the direction of his house.  Your parents and the crowd decide to follow them.  As you walk through the streets of the town, many people come out of their houses and shopkeepers look out their windows to see what is causing the commotion.  The large crowd begins to grow in size once more.  You want to see, you want to see the teacher and the man, but the crowd is pushing you back.  You let go of your mother’s hand and make your way zigging and zagging through the people until you are right behind them.  You can see them continuing to speak, the anxiety on the man’s face is almost too much to bear.  The teacher touches his shoulder and he immediately calms down.  

Just then, a woman pushes you from behind.  She has long dark hair.  She looks frazzled.  Her clothes are torn and tattered and there are tears streaming from her eyes.  She stretches out her hand as far as possible.  She needs to touch the teacher.  She needs to reach him.  She has one finger outstretched as people are pushing in on her from every side.  She speaks.  “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”  Finally, that one finger reaches the cloak.  Immediately, the look on her face changes.  She is calm, peaceful, happy.  

Something happened when she touched him.  What happened?  Who is this teacher?  Just then, the teacher turns around in surprise.  How did he feel that?  How did he know she touched him?  Her finger had barely reached the edge of his cloak.  He asks “Who has touched my clothes?”  I stop dead in my tracks.  It wasn’t me.  I’m nervous.  Is he angry?  I can barely breathe.  The woman steps forward, she is trembling.  There is a look of fear on her face.  She falls to her knees and tells him the story of how she has been afflicted with a horrible disease for twelve years.  She believed the teacher could heal her.  She just needed to touch him.  The teacher looks at her with such compassion in his eyes.  I sense a deep love for this woman.  He spoke to her at that moment saying “Daughter, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”  

While the teacher was speaking to the woman, there was a commotion coming from a group of people walking toward the man.  They say to him “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”  Immediately the man begins sobbing.  Cries of pain and anguish come from his mouth.  Everyone is stunned.  Gasps and cries go up from everyone in the crowd.  Immediately, the teacher holds up his hand to quiet the people and says; “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”  I look around.  People are confused.  They want to have faith in the teacher and what he is saying, but the girl is already dead.  What can he do for her now?  

We continue to walk up a hill to the man’s house.  People are standing in front of the house weeping, hugging each other, trying to comfort one another after having just lost their little girl.  I hear someone say the girl was only twelve years old.  That’s how old I am.  Oh no!  Do I know her?  My heart begins beating rapidly.  Fear creeps in again.

The teacher continues inside the house.  I sneak inside behind him.  Anxiously waiting to see what will happen.  The teacher says “Why this commotion and weeping?  The child is not dead but asleep.”  What?!?!  Family members approach him and ridicule him.  How can he say such a thing?  The girl is dead!  The family members are in such pain from her loss and this teacher comes in and chastises them saying she is only sleeping??  

The teacher takes her mother and father by the hand and leads them into the room where the girl is.  The girl’s skin is as pale as can be.  She is lying still, not breathing.  Her eyes are closed.  She doesn’t move.  I start to cry because I realize this is my friend.  She goes to school with me.  We sit together at lunch most days.  I will miss her dearly.  As I wipe the tears from my eyes, the teacher stretches out his hand to hold hers.  He then spoke to her saying “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

As if I was in a dream, her cheeks returned to a beautiful shade of pink, she took a deep breath and stood up.  Her parents eyes lit up with happiness!  They gave her the biggest hug you could ever imagine.  As they hugged her, they cried tears of joy.  She was alive!!  The teacher healed her!  He healed my friend!  Who is this man who heals the sick and brings the dead back to life?  I never want to leave him.  I will follow him always.