Friday, February 3, 2012

February 3 - Blaise, Martyr, Physician, Healer

To be honest, the crowd was a little shocked to see the woman at the parade with her child. Didn't she know there would soon be blood and screaming? They were further shocked when she pushed her way to the front of the crowd. What kind of mother was so keen to see the gory death of a man at the hands of the Roman Empire? The greatest shock, however, was to watch her step across the unspoken boundary that separated audience from spectacle and willingly interpose herself upon the death story being written for Blaise. She carried the child before him and knelt down at his feet.What a sight! A free woman kneeling at the feet of a condemned criminal! She even raised up her young son before the man and implored him to help the child who was choking on something. Blaise halted as best he could and considered the situation briefly. To the surprise of the crowd, he simultaneously prayed for the child while manipulating the child's throat. Soon, the child was fine thanks to Blaise and Blaise was kicked forward by the guards to continue upon the previously schedule death march. Blaise was more than willing to insert a little life into the story because that's what he had been doing for years.

Blaise was a physician in Caesarea who practiced his profession differently than so many others. Instead of promising great cures and healing, Blaise did not make a spectacle of himself and his talents. Yet people came from miles around to be healed and cured by his gifted hands and under his gifted prayers. He was known to be a Christian when Christianity was a crime but his goodness and benevolence were able to win over many from their uninformed biases against the Body of Christ. Whereas other physicians offered help at a very dear cost, Blaise offered very dear help at little to no cost for those who needed it most. This kind of radical and ridiculous benevolence and love rankled those who stood to gain by doing the opposite. Then, one day, the bishop of the area died and Blaise was appointed the next bishop to great acclaim from the Christian population.

Blaise was not the bishop of the area for long, though, as he was turned in by those who opposed him and his charity. He was well known for healing and curing the people whom Rome would rather forget and so he was an easy target for the powerful. They marched him to the appointed place of his execution and then raked over his body with iron combs. Each vicious stroke raised fresh blood to his skin that would never be healed by human hands. He died a martyr--having saved a child on his way to his own death--because he refused to deny the faith that caused him to give his life away in small gifts of health and prayer. Blaise died proclaiming life in the face of death and even taking a small break in the midst of a spectacle of execution to bring life to one more person.

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