The Gospel readings from two days last week have been rattling around in my head.
Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded.
They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
…And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”…
What does this tell us about the Lord? Part of me thinks of the movie “Elf” in that Santa wasn’t able to fly through New York City because of a lack of “Christmas Cheer” until people started singing “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” I don’t think that Jesus’ power is limited or controlled by us in any real sense, but one could come away from these readings with that idea (namely, that being around believers doesn’t make Jesus want to do more miracles for whatever reason, but that he feeds off it in some way or gains power from belief). That is clearly heretical to think that we have anything to do with God’s power (can’t add or subtract from infinity). To me this seems to be an illustration of where the rubber meets the road vis-a-vis the infinite Divine Logos being contained within a human person. That God the Father or the Holy Spirit is aware of the woman’s faith and heals her while Jesus doesn’t necessarily have every fact of Creation in His consciousness at all times.
My questions are: what do these passages teach us about the incarnate, walking around Jesus? and what does this tell us about how prayers of petition work?