INTERRUPTIONS INTO LIFE-GIVING ENCOUNTERS

June 27, 2021 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062721.cfm)

As this pandemic brought significant changes in our lifestyle and way of gathering, the online platform is now commonly used. However, I cannot help but get irritated of the many interruptions happening during our online seminars, recollections or meetings. A knock on my door, a telephone call or unnecessary noises in the background, or a participant who still struggle to use the online platform would get into my nerves. I get irritated by these interruptions.

Speaking of interruptions, honestly, I hate it also when I am interrupted from my work. Yet, there were times also when some interruptions and disturbances turned into life-giving encounters that made me wonder and reflect deeper.

I remember while I was busy with office works in our parish in Iloilo City, I was interrupted by a young lady brought by her father. This young lady was shaking and I thought she was having seizure. However, she became hysterical. Her eyes turned red and her finger nails were scratching the walls of my office. Her face showed fear and claimed that “they” were there around watching her. She seemed to see evil spirits that I could not see.

I have to stop from what I was doing. If people would judge what was happening at that moment, certainly, they would say that it was a devil’s possession. The father actually thought that her daughter was possessed by the devil. If one would look at her, she really looked possessed. The father begged me to help his daughter. He did not know what to do with her anymore.

I was terrified having encountered such case for the first time. Yet, when she calmed down, I ask the father to leave us in the office so that I can talk to her personally. I addressed her by her name but she just looked at me, fiercely. I asked her if she believed that God is with her. She responded with a big, NO! She did not believe that God is with her. She was filled with so much anger. She claimed that there were people haunting her. And they were there at that moment in my office.

That was creepy! And so I asked her, who are they? She did not answer and seemed so fearful. I asked her again but with a different question, “Who are these people hurting you now?” There was a long pause from her and she began crying, with tears in her eyes she named them. The people who were hurting her was her mother who abandoned them when she was little, her father who was so controlling to her, her siblings who did not respect her, her classmates who bullied and shamed her. In her imagination these people who have hurt her, turned into evil spirits, haunting her day and night even when she’s asleep.

She suffered so much trauma and pain from family and friends. She felt unloved and unaccepted.  She felt empty. She could not believe that there is God who loves her. She opened up and it was her first time to talk to someone and shared her pain and anger. It was when she was able to name those people who caused pain to her that she began also to relax. She began to understand her pain.

I told her that her journey towards healing has begun. She won’t be haunted anymore and will not fear them because she already knew who they were. I assured her that I am her new friend whom she can trust.

I told her too that we will pray together. So I asked her what she wanted to ask from God. She wanted peace, assurance of love and friendship, that the evils and her pain will go away and never come back. So together, we prayed for her intentions. Her tears were dripping while I was praying for her. After the prayer, I asked her, how are you now? Her response touched me very much, she said, “I feel, God is talking to me right now!”

I myself have been touched by this encounter. It was not a mere encounter of a possessed lady but an encounter with a lady who suffered so much trauma and turned to be a person who found hope and love from a loving God.

This interruption reminds me now of the Gospel today. Jesus was on his way going to a place when he was interrupted by an official of the synagogue. This man interrupted Jesus to beg him to heal his daughter. Yet, on his way to the house of the official, Jesus was again interrupted by another woman who touched the end of his cloak so that she may be healed from her sickness.

This Sunday, Jesus is teaching us about these interruptions. When he was interrupted by the official and by that woman who suffered bleeding for 12 years, Jesus did not show an indifferent attitude to them. Jesus responded to them gracefully and generously. These interruptions actually turned into “life-giving encounters.”

In the Gospel, it was not Jesus who touched first the sick. The father of the child, Jairus, called Jesus’ attention and Jesus was touched by that interruption. The sick woman also touched Jesus so that she may be healed. Jesus allowed them to touch him and that is why those interruptions became life-giving.

My own encounter with that young lady taught me how powerful it is when we learn to stop for a person in need and discover how God works through us. This brings us now of Jesus’ invitation today and that is to be welcoming and to be life-giving in our many encounters with people, with our family members, relatives, friends and strangers. This calls us not to be indifferent with those who call for our care and attention, who seek our help and our presence. Like Jesus, when we are able to learn to stop and welcome interruptions, then we shall also discover how God unfolds His grace and healing power through us. This makes an interruption into a life-giving encounter. Hinaut pa.

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