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Jesus' Mighty Deeds View Comments
By John R. Barker, OFM

THERE IS NOTHING more fundamental to the Christian faith than the belief that God heals. Whether it is through the grace of conversion, the soothing of grief or even the deliverance from death through resurrection, Christians have always placed their faith in a God who, through Jesus, has compassion on his people and works to bring them healing and wholeness.

The Gospel of Mark, which we will be hearing on Sundays this year, is full of stories about Jesus healing people. He gives sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. He casts out demons that torment innocent children. He heals a woman with a hemorrhage and a man from his paralysis. In all, Mark features more than a dozen of these “mighty deeds” of Jesus—about one fourth of his Gospel is about them.

That such stories should fill so much space in the shortest of the four Gospels can only mean that Mark considered them very significant. This may seem obvious. Clearly, we might say, they are important because they demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah who has power to heal and cast out demons. It’s true—this is part of the reason Mark includes such stories in his Gospel. But if that were the whole point of the stories, one or two of them would undoubtedly have sufficed to make it. So, why are there so many mighty deeds in Mark? What do they mean—for him and for us?

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John R. Barker, O.F.M., is a member of St. John the Baptist Province (Cincinnati) and is a doctoral student in Old Testament at Boston College. He earned an M.Div. from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and an M.A. in theology with a specialization in Scripture.

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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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