Monday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time    

            Jesus, in today’s gospel, cured a man with “a withered hand.” Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘withered’ as any part or anything that has become dry and shriveled; something that has lost its vigor or freshness; something that is falling into decay or decline.

            We see in this gospel passage, once again, Jesus performing an essential part of his mission: that is, liberating people from the destructive powers of evil and sin. How? By curing the sick, healing the wounded, restoring the broken. He is, indeed, the Lord who heals what is withered in the person.

            I just hope that we see the significance and relevance of this in our life. It is important to honestly examine ourselves and find out the part of our life that may be becoming ‘withered’ – shriveled, dried up, limped, diminished, perished.

            In what ways could our faith become withered? Our faith becomes withered, first and foremost, when we do not feed ourselves, using the statement of Pope Benedict, on the Word of God and on the Bread of Life. We need to feed ourselves with the Word of God and the Bread of Life (the Eucharist).

            In what other ways does our faith become withered? When we forget to seriously think of what matters most in life, when we become obsessed with something or someone, when we get fixated on material things and physical ‘beautification’, when we are influenced by the distorted values of consumerism, when we are intoxicated with selfish interests and ambitions, when we get addicted to sexual pleasures and instant gratification…our faith becomes withered.

            In this Mass, let us humbly ask the Lord to stretch out his hand and heal our withered faith, heal our brokenness and woundedness. May our “withered faith” be refreshed or reinvigorated by grace. May it become fully alive.

            Let us pray: Lord Jesus, heal our withered faith…our faith that has become dry due to neglect…our faith that has lost its vigor due to lack of care and nourishment…our faith that is falling into decay because of the distorted values we have embraced. Lord Jesus, stretch out your hand…heal our woundedness and restore us in your grace. Amen.

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