Our friend Isabel had polio as a child and was confined, as they say, to a wheelchair. She went to Lourdes and, when she returned, called to tell us that she had been healed. I was quite young at the time and was eager to see the results of this miracle.
Imagine my disappointment when I saw her struggling as usual to get out of the car and into her chair. “I thought you were cured in Lourdes,” I blurted out. “Not cured, healed,” she replied. She explained that while she remained in the same physical condition, her experience in Lourdes had so transformed her heart that she was no longer angry or bitter about the polio. And from then on, she lived joyfully. A true miracle.
When I got the chance to visit Lourdes, I understood better. Despite the ghastly tourist schlock that surrounds the grotto, once you pass through the gates it is like getting a glimpse of heaven. It took me a while to figure it out, but then I realized that the usual priorities were up-ended.
In Lourdes, it is not the sleek and powerful who hold sway but, rather, it is the sick and the suffering who are, properly, the focus of our care and attention.
The Reign of God, indeed.
[Image by Darreenvt from Wikimedia Commons]