Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Healing
Have you ever wondered why programmes dealing with hospitals appear to be very popular with TV audiences? Even before TV we had the "Dr. Kildare" series on the big screen; since then, among others, we have had "The Flying Doctor", GP, Chicago Hope and ER, All Saints  and others, of which I have lost count. There is no doubt! People are fascinated by healers.  Our readings today portray the role of the "Eternal Healer" in the story of the Chosen People, firstly, and then of all people  who open themselves to the healing ministry of Christ.

Jeremiah 20: 10-13: Despite the criticism and persecution by his co-nationals, Jeremiah continues to assert his unshakeable faith in God.

Romans: 5: 12-13: Christ, the new Adam, through His willingness to forgive, brings universal healing to al who ask for it.

Matthew 10:26-33:  In sending the Apostles to carry on His mission, Christ assures them of His support regardless of what difficulties or opposition they may encounter.

Point 1: Through-out the Old Testament and the New Testament we find many references to the healing power of God. There are the accounts of the miraculous healings of the sick, the infirm or the maimed ; but there are also accounts of the daily healing needed in the lives of ordinary people as they struggle through the temptations, the harassments, the failings, the difficulties associated with trying to be men, women and children of faith in an environment where faith is always hard, is frequently unsupported and occasionally appears to be absurd. Our trials and tribulations may not rank with those of Jeremiah, or Job, or those Christians who suffer outright persecution; but they can be equally challenging to our faith. We still need to be strengthened when we become tired, puzzled and discouraged to the point where we are almost ready to quit.

Point 2: The first experience the early disciples had of Christ was that he healed them, not of physical sickness, but of aimless and uncertain lives. He gave them something to live for. From him they received new directions to follow; wider dimensions were brought to their thinking. Remember when he challenged them to join those who found his teachings hard and were no longer prepared to walk with him and Peter's reply - "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life". In this, their experience followed that of their forebears in faith. In Psalm 41.v3, we read "As for me I said "O Lord, be gracious to me, heal me, for I have sinned against you". In Isaiah, 57. 18, "I have seen their ways, but I will heal them. I will lead them and repay them with comfort .... peace, peace to the far and the near, says the Lord, and I will heal them".

The experience of Jesus as the One who made them whole, encouraged them and sent them forth again was the primary and the basic experience the early Christians had of Jesus. He had saved them; that is to say, he had healed them. Salvation was not something that would come in the next life; it was something that was happening and would merely be continued in the life to come. The healing of Jesus is not in the future, but in the here and now. And that is why when we pray for healing, it is not so much the direct and miraculous intervention in our physical condition that we are asking for, but rather, we are  praying  in the first instance for that virtue of fortitude to be able to cope and to know that our present situation, stressful as it may be, can be made to serve our overall plan of salvation. Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani sought the miraculous in wanting to be freed from the need to be sacrificed, but settled for the strength to cope - " Father, if it is your will, take this cup from me, but not my will, but yours be done".

Conclusion: We find in Mary, too, this example of fortitude. We also need this virtue of fortitude. In the absence of the miraculous, we have to learn to draw upon that other aspect of Divine Healing. Each of us has had some experience of the healing powers that our faith brings to us. Otherwise we would be only nominal and indifferent Christians. There have been occasions in our lives when our faith has made us feel renewed and ready to get on with living again. But there are also times when we have backed off a little asking ourselves how often can this happen. Is there a limit to this healing power of our faith in Jesus and Mary? The answer is "NO!" As we understand more fully that, in all likelihood, the miraculous is not for us, the need for this gift of fortitude and courage to operate in our lives becomes more apparent. Through this facet of God's healing power, we can master our fear of what is happening to us; we learn to check our anger and, above all, we learn the value of St. Timothy's advice about fighting the good fight.

Scripture reference:" I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy, 4:7-8)