Continued: Jesus, a
Companion in Illness
How Jesus cured
Most of Jesus' healings were instant. Sometimes it was just by a word, but more often a gesture was part of the cure. He laid his hands gently on people. He touched Peter's mother-in-law's fevered hand ( Mt 8,15); he put his finger in the deaf man's ear ( Mk 7,33 ); he touched the blind man's eyes. ( Mt 21,34 ) Sometimes the cure did not come all at once. Mark's gospel, reporting a blind man's cure, says that Jesus had to touch him twice before he could see clearly. ( Mk 8,22) Clearly, Jesus preferred to cure by coming close to people, even those, like lepers, whom others tried to avoid.
Go in peace
Why did Jesus heal? Because he wanted to take away the powerlessness brought by sickness. He saw the fear, the self-absorption, the loss of hope, the questioning of God that were its consequences. They brought a touch of death to people's lives. And he came to bring life. He healed for the advantage of others, for their peace, not for his own. And so, as the accounts of his cures make clear, Jesus never saw healing complete until those suffering were restored to the homes and families they knew before.
A cause for rejoicing
People of Jesus' day saw his healing power as a sign that God was visiting his people, and they rejoiced. Christians today believe the Risen Christ still heals and blesses our world. Once he instructed his own disciples to heal the sick in his name, "So they went out...and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them." (Mk 6,12-13) Now the ministry of healing is given to every Christian and is a mark of the church. How is it accomplished today? In many different ways.
Come, I will refresh you
During his lifetime, Jesus cured bodily ills like blindness, deafness, fevers of all kinds, and people were amazed by what he did. More important than his cure of body, however, was his healing of the human spirit. To a paralyzed man brought to him on a pallet he said " Son, your sins are forgiven," and lifted a burden from his spirit. Mary Magdalen, whom he cured, was possessed "by seven devils," according to scripture. Probably everything was wrong with her : a physical, mental and spiritual wreck. Jesus touched her whole person: her body, her mind, her memory, her feelings, her imagination. Essentially, he touched her heart.
To strengthen our weakened spirits is, in fact, Jesus' greatest and most important healing gift. The gospels make it clear that Jesus' physical cures were limited; he did not cure everyone. But he wishes to heal every human heart.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you,"Jesus says. It is a promise he makes to all. Some he will cure, but he will refresh everyone. The most important grace given by Jesus, the healer, is to believe, to hope, to go on, in spite of everything.
And so we come to him, seeking healing for our bodies, yes, but above all seeking the inner strength that Jesus promises to give.
This collection of brief essays and prayers is meant to assist those who suffer with sickness themselves and those who live with others who are sick -- in other words, all of us at some point in our lives.
At this site:
Everyday Prayers | Simple Prayers | Prayers in Sickness
The Wisdom of Scripture | Mary and Prayer in Sickness
Thoughts from a Physician | Why Suffering?
Passionist Publications and Fr Victor Hoagland, C.P.
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