ANIMA CHRISTI: Chapter Two (Part Two)—In The Light Of God’s Word by Marie Paul Curley

Meditations on a Timeless Prayer

Chapter Two (Part Two)—In The Light Of God’s Word by Marie Paul Curley

From Soul of Christ

They came to Bethsaida.  Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him.  He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?”  And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.”  Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
(Mark 8:22-26)

Quiet time for personal adoration.

Adoring Jesus In His Word

The Gospel of Mark recounts many unique details in this unusual miracle.  As we reflect on the human gestures Jesus uses to heal the man who is blind – gestures that he fills with grace – we ponder how Jesus graces the ordinary human moments of our lives.

Jesus Heals Through Human Touch

People bring the blind man to Jesus and beg him to touch and heal him.  Jesus does so, unexpectedly.  First, Jesus takes him by the hand and leads him apart from the others.  What a comforting gesture – to offer guidance and personal connection to someone immersed in the dark.  Did Jesus want to offer him the dignity of privacy, or the opportunity to speak in confidence?  Perhaps Jesus wanted to allay the man’s fears and help him to grow in faith so that he could be healed more fully.  While we can only guess at the motivation of Jesus, this beautiful, personal moment has parallels in our lives.  When we are lost and blinded by our fears, prejudices, or assumptions, Jesus takes us by the hand and leads us to where he can heal us.  How close Jesus comes to us in our weakness!

Then Jesus uses his saliva and the touch of his hands to heal – surprising physical gestures that Jesus repeats until the man receives full sight.  Jesus can work through anything in our lives, even ordinary physical details.  We cannot predict what God will use to reveal himself to us and to save us, and we cannot discount what we perceive to be human and messy: saliva, human touch, or the ups and downs of our relationships with others.

This miracle reveals a dramatic gospel truth: Jesus does not just come to us in the “big” moments of our lives but in the daily stuff of life, in the gifts of God’s creation – other people, bread, wine, oil, water.  Most radiantly, Jesus comes to us in the church, where together as the Body of Christ we celebrate the Eucharist.  In the Eucharist, Jesus uses common bread and wine and transforms them into his own Body and Blood in order to give us himself and unite us with each other.

After a few moments of personal reflection, pray John 1:1-18 as an act of faith and adoration.

Jesus’s Desire to Save

Unless we have suffered from blindness ourselves, we may not fully appreciate the gift of sight.  Being healed of blindness restores the possibility of living a full and fruitful life – a powerful metaphor for being saved.

Following Jesus Way

Take a few moments to thank Jesus for the ways he has already worked his saving power in your life.

He walks with us

Praying this petition – Body of Christ, save me – encourages us to reflect on the tremendous saving love of God for us.  While we may not always feel the urgency in this petition, let us ask the Lord’s help to recognize how we need healing.

  • All of us suffer from blind spots and weaknesses. What blindness or weakness do I bring to Jesus today to be healed?  How do I need to be saved today?

Choose one question and spend time with it, allowing it to lead you into a deep examination of conscience.

  • Do I want physical or spiritual healing? Perhaps I sense hardness in my heart, or an interior resistance that needs transformation?
  • Do I long for something more in my life – to move from “being stuck” in the dry rut of routine to the freedom to respond to God’s new invitations?
  • Is there an injustice in my family, neighborhood, or society that needs the power of God’s grace to address or confront?
  • To whom do I want to extend God’s saving love today?  Perhaps I want to use my hands to imitate the compassionate touch of Jesus, or my tongue to speak lovingly, as Jesus would do.

We can take a few moments to bring to the Lord something in us that needs to be saved and healed, allowing ourselves to be touched by his love.

The greatest healing we can receive is from our sinfulness.  We pray for this grace.

We are called to be God’s healing presence in the world.  In our humanness, this union of body and soul, we can touch each other in ways that would not be possible if we were just spiritual beings.  We can come to appreciate – as God already does – the gift of our hands, reaching out in kindness; the gift of our tongues, warmly speaking the precise words another person needs to hear; the gift of our presence, alleviating loneliness and building a sense of family and communion; the gift of our physical strength, rubbing shoulders in a common effort.  Every aspect of our physical being – including our ability to give ourselves in love fully to a spouse – is a tremendous gift that we both experience ourselves and offer to another.  As Saint Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body,” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  We pray for this grace: to glorify God with our whole being, bodies, and souls.

We ask for the grace of healing and light through a prayer to the Holy Spirit,
perhaps with the familiar hymn, “Come, Holy Ghost,” words attributed to Rabanus Maurus, translated by Edward Caswall.

In Union With Christ

Christ has no body now upon the Earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion look upon the world.
Yours are the lips with which his love has to speak.
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now,
and yours the feet with which he is to go about doing good through his church, which is his body.
(Often attributed to Saint Teresa of Ávila, but origins unknown.)

During his Earthly life, Jesus used his hands for all the usual daily activities of his time – to labor, hug, heal, share, eat, bless, and break bread for others.  We pray that whatever actions or gestures we make with our hands and our bodies – no matter how ordinary – can be sanctified by Jesus’s holy hands.

In your mind, picture the actions of the rest of your day, and ask Jesus to work through your hands, your lips, your body, in each circumstance.

Blessed James Alberione spoke of holiness as allowing God to take flesh in us: “To become saints, we have to incarnate God in ourselves.”  For Alberione, the font of holiness is the Eucharist: “It is in Communion that our natural life is replaced by the divine life of Jesus Christ.  Grafted into Jesus, we will speak and think as Jesus; live of Jesus; die with Jesus.  We will have no other ideal than to be a living image of Jesus Christ: ‘I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me,’ (Galatians 2:20).  Then the Mass will leave a profound impression on us.”

Resolve to ask for the grace to live of Jesus the next time you participate at Mass and receive Communion.

In adoration and at Mass, we can pray these words, Body of Christ, save me, asking that our bodies and our entire beings are freed from the power of sin and transformed into the likeness of Christ.  The following prayer from the personal journal of Blessed James Alberione can help us to unpack this petitions even further.

If you have time, pray this prayer line by line, pausing to reflect and pray for the grace to sanctify your heart,
your ears, your mouth, and so forth.  Feel free to add your own petitions as well.

May I love with your heart, Jesus.
May I hear only with your ears.
May I savor what you delight in.
May my hands become your hands.
May my feet follow in your footsteps.
May I pray with your prayer.
May I treat others the way you treat them.

Conclude your hour with a spiritual communion and a hymn such as, “Be Thou My Vision,”
from ancient Gaelic and translated by Eleanor Hull, or “Bread, Blessed and Broken,” by Michael B. Lynch.

May I celebrate Mass the way you immolated yourself.
May I be in you and you in me to the point that I disappear.
Deign to make use of this tongue to sing to God for all ages,
of this heart to love him,
of this most unfortunate sinner to proclaim you.

I am the Good Shepherd; I desire mercy.

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