Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Healing
There are few of us who have not experienced healing in one way or another; and, invariably, healing is accompanied by gratitude. Today's readings, particularly the first and the third, focus our attention on this fact of healing and being grateful. Oddly, it is the pagan Naaman in the first reading, and the despised Samaritan in the third, who are grateful and express their gratitude.

2 Kings 5: 14-17 - Naaman, CIC of the Syrian army, had come to Elisha the Prophet seeking a cure for the dreaded disease of leprosy. On being cured, he immediately gave thanks by proclaiming his belief in Jahwe, the One ,True God. The Responsorial Psalm echoes this hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the almighty God of all nations.

2 Timothy 2: 8-13 - In the epistle, Paul reassures Timothy that faith in the Risen Jesus brings comfort and strength in any situation. Jesus will heal even the wounds of death, and it is this Faith that has supported Paul in all his trials.

Luke 17: 11-19 - Strangers seem to show more gratitude to Christ for being healed than his own people. It is not the first time that Christ has tried to shame the Chosen People by comparing their behaviour with that of the despised Samaritans. The Samaritans, in the eyes of the Orthodox Jew, were an heretical group who were detested even more than the pagans. They were the descendants of a mixed population and were never regarded as true Israelites.

Point 1: Healing, whether it relates to physical or spiritual malaise, is never easy; and each of us is familiar with the good feeling one has as healing begins to take effect. - a headache that eases; the annoying cold that has hung on for weeks suddenly breaks and we breathe again; after the operation, the incision knits and we can move freely again. Spiritually, too, we recognise the relief that comes with psychotherapy; husband and wife take on a new lease of life as marriage counseling helps to heal the wounds in their marriage; the addict surges with hope again as self-mastery is reasserted and the dreaded dependency is broken; the peace and tranquillity that come to a conscience eased by confession and reconciliation through the Sacraments. The list goes on and on of examples of healing acts putting together what was broken, reuniting what had been severed, giving back to life a semblance of order and happiness. For this we should be grateful.

Point 2: But, in addition to being healed, as Christians we are expected also to be "healers". Jesus came to exercise a ministry of healing, to enable people to live in a harmonious relationship with their God and with each other; and we, through Baptism, have succeeded to that ministry. Today, there is great need for healing attitudes in our society. Recently, I attended a morning tea at an Islamic Mosque. There, I met representatives of Government, different Religious groups, the Police and leaders of the Islamic community. One common thought was on everyone's mind - to make sure the hard won attitudes of tolerance and understanding in our community will not be undermined by fanaticism and prejudice.

Conclusion: Leprosy may not be the scourge it was in Our Lord's time; but, envy, prejudice, anger and hatred are still ever present evils needing our healing hand. Let us not imagine that the time for healing or gratitude exemplified in today's readings relates only to yesteryear. They are very much needed today.

Scriptural reference: "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise". (Jeremiah, 17:14)