4 July – Memorial for St. Elizabeth of Portugal
Elizabeth (1271-1336) was a princess with a pious upbringing who became Queen of Portugal before she was a teenager. Elizabeth suffered through years of her husband’s abuse and adultery, praying all the while for his conversion, and working with the poor and sick. She rode onto the battlefield to reconcile her family members twice; once between her husband and son when they clashed in civil war, and between her son and his son-in-law years later, preventing bloodshed. This led to her patronage as a peacemaker, and as one invoked in time of war and conflict.
– Patron Saint Index
It is the Lord who speaks:
I am going to lure her
and lead her out into the wilderness
and speak to her heart.
I am going to give her back her vineyards,
and make the Valley of Achor a gateway of hope.
There she will respond to me as she did when she was young,
as she did when she came out of the land of Egypt.
When that day comes – it is the Lord who speaks –
she will call me, ‘My husband’,
no longer will she call me, ‘My Baal.’
I will betroth you to myself for ever,
betroth you with integrity and justice,
with tenderness and love;
I will betroth you to myself with faithfulness,
and you will come to know the Lord.
While Jesus was speaking, up came one of the officials, who bowed low in front of him and said, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and her life will be saved.’ Jesus rose and, with his disciples, followed him. Then from behind him came a woman, who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years, and she touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I can only touch his cloak I shall be well again.’ Jesus turned round and saw her; and he said to her, ‘Courage, my daughter, your faith has restored you to health.’ And from that moment the woman was well again.
When Jesus reached the official’s house and saw the flute-players, with the crowd making a commotion he said, ‘Get out of here; the little girl is not dead, she is asleep.’ And they laughed at him. But when the people had been turned out he went inside and took the little girl by the hand; and she stood up. And the news spread all round the countryside.
Jesus turned round and saw her
You might be familiar with a rather famous photograph of Pope Francis – one where he bends over to kiss the head of a man suffering from an obviously severe form of neurofibromatosis. This condition is characterised by the growth of tumours on nerve tissue, and could seriously affect the appearance of the sufferer. Most probably would not wish to come into contact with the person, thinking that he looks ‘dirty’, ‘gross’, and wrongly assuming that the condition is contagious.
There is a more recent video of the Pope telling his audience that they should touch — as in physically touch — the poor, and not just toss money at them. He had gathered a group of young refugee men with him to illustrate his point. I think he meant that a simple physical touch of care and concern can make a big difference to someone’s life, especially if that person has had to endure being shunned by others due to his or her financial situation, illness and perceived low status in society.
In the gospel, Jesus knew that the haemorraghing woman had touched Him, and He turned to speak to her. I am sure he would have reached out a reassuring hand to her as He affirms her faith. Because of her bleeding, the woman would have been considered ritually unclean, but Jesus takes notice of her and speaks to her kindly nonetheless.
I have been reflecting about my own social mission, and on what we are called to do as Christians. My social circle comprises friends and acquaintances who have a similar educational background to myself, and most are caught up in either work or family commitments. I know that most of them, like me, are not actively involved in social mission work. Unless I make a very deliberate effort, I could cruise along in life without ever lifting much of a finger to help the less unfortunate (besides the giving of money).
There is a Social Mission conference in Singapore, happening soon on 13 Aug 2016. I am helping out at a related event, and as I involve myself at this level of outreach, I pray that I will be able to find an opportunity and exercise the will to do at least one of the following – “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35)
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray that those we have will have a greater awareness and desire to help those who have not.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for Jesus’ example of merciful love.