I have never been to Lourdes but there were at least three people who thought so well of my condition and brought me a bottle or two of its miraculous water. I have drunk many times from these bottles and have prayed intensely for a cure. I never was cured nor was there any relief whenever I did. I drunk it at night before I sleep hoping and praying that Our Blessed Mother will look so kindly and intercede to her Son, so that He could pronounce those words which has given me so many great expectations every morning as I wake up: “Rise up take up your mat and walk.” The call never came. I was perplexed. Am I to be counted with those who are weak in faith? Is my faith in God smaller than a mustard seed which is all that is required to move mountains? All these things troubled me and I even came to the day when I was so discouraged I cried in despair and in a fit of anger broke a few jealousies in my room. I wanted to do something but I can’t. I felt loneliness, cold loneliness and slowly a sense of helplessness overwhelmed me.
Finally, that night, after heaving a heavy sigh of resignation, I gathered enough courage to reach out and open up once more the bottle of water and drunk a big gulp. It was the first time I drunk it without any wish for anything, not for a cure, not for alleviation, not for anything. I just took it and drunk. I never even said a prayer.
That night I slept so soundly I almost forgot the mass. I woke up refresh, still with the pain but raring to go. I never noticed it at first but something deep within bothered me. I look at my window and yes the broken jealousy was still there. I never dreamt the anger and the cry of desperation the night before. The evidence was still there hanging by my window. But that day I was raring to go as if nothing happened the night before. The pain was there but for the first time it never bothered me. I began to accept it. Something deep within got me up that morning and told me “to rise up and go,” limping maybe, but going nevertheless.
I never asked God for anything that evening - I was just felt too tired and too desperate to do so. The last thing I wanted was to feel frustrated over again the morning after. I just abandoned everything and I believe that when I drunk that water it gave me the capacity to do so - to entrust everything to God. And that was the miracle of the water from Lourdes - a water like any other water which in the bible is a symbol of abandonment and new life. It gave me the power of faith to go on enthusiastically in my ministry.
The real miracle of life is not so much to see someone discarding his cane for good, but to see someone who has one, happy, contented, daring, risking, believing in himself and in his capacity, and one who dares to cry, God is my loving Father despite his unease. This is the miracle of Lourdes, the value of abandonment which its waters sacramentalize in all of us.
To my brothers and sisters who are sick, aged and disabled, may you see the same miracle in your life and pain.