21 JULY 1996
In today's Gospel, as in other parts of the New Testament, we see men, women and children coming or being brought to Christ, in the hope that they will be healed – healed of their physical disease, healed of misery, of pain, of agony of life. And every time Christ says to them, «Dost thou believe that I can do this?' And on this occasion, the man who was asked about it concerning his ill son said, 'I believe, Lord, help my unbelief’. But if we believe that Christ our Lord has power to save, there is more to it, because what we are expected to believe is not in the divine power only, but in divine compassion.
The text of today's Gospel speaks of mercy. Mercy means tenderness, it means caring, but beyond this, there is this very great, and in a way frightening word, compassion which means readiness, and indeed not only readiness but reality of suffering together, of carrying together the whole suffering of another person. And indeed this is what God has done in His incarnation. He has taken upon Himself not only the human nature with all its frailty, but all the pain, all the suffering, all the agony of each of us. And if we turn to Him, asking for healing, for help, what we really mean to say is, 'I believe, Lord, that Your love is such that there is no pain of mind, no agony of mind, no suffering of body which You do not participate in. Yes, You have been crucified, sharing not only our death, but the pain which sears at every heart and tears every limb.' Can we turn to God in our need and say, «Lord, I believe in Your compassion. I believe that whenever I suffer, justly or unjustly, for my own fault or not, You suffer with me, You share my agony; and beyond this, Your agony is greater than mine, because You know, more than I do, about what I could be, in body and soul.'
And so when we are in need of divine mercy or divine help, let us not simply turn to Him and say, «Lord, I am in need and You have the power', let us turn and say, 'I know, Lord, that there is no suffering, no pain, no agony which you do not share with me; I worship Your love, I bow down before Your crucifixion, I accept the horror of Your sharing all my suffering, and, because I believe in Your compassion so profoundly, so entirely, grant me to share in Your wholeness'. Amen.