No matter which way you cut it, healing is at the center of the Gospel. In the same way as Jesus came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mt 20:28), he also came not to be healed, but to heal. Just look at the many miracles he performed; virtually all of them involved a person who so desired to be healed, and Christ alone was the only one who could satiate that desire.
One of the most remarkable things about these healings is that faith was all that was required of the one who was healed. It was not warranted on their own accord, nor did they earn it; in the end, it is Jesus Christ alone who truly heals. All we need to do is believe that he can.
Of all the miracles that Jesus performed, this is perhaps most evident in the story of the woman with the hemorrhage, recorded in the three synoptic gospels. As was likely commonplace whenever Jesus entered a town, many people pressed up against him as he walked through the dazzled crowds. Those who touched him mostly did so either quite by accident or out of purely human admiration, much like one might at a concert as the lead singer of the headlining band walks by.
However, for one woman, touching Jesus was literally a matter of life and death. This woman had been bleeding for 12 years and approached Jesus with great faith, believing that “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well” (Mk 5:28). She knew well whom it was she approached, and by her faith, she was healed. It was her faith alone that healed her, as Jesus makes clear after he feels power go out from him: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mk 5:34).
Restoration to Communion
Like the hemorrhaging woman, we all need healing of some kind. It may not be physical; it could be healing of an emotional or even spiritual nature. However, as Dr. Mary Healy points out, physical wounds and emotional wounds are often mysteriously connected.
“Often there’s a relationship between a physical ailment and an inner wound — not every time, we don’t want to draw false conclusions — but when people carry deep wounds that are unresolved in their personality, especially over a period of years and decades, then that often has a physical effect,” Dr. Healy told the Denver Catholic. “It can influence conditions like arthritis or autoimmune disease or even cancer sometimes. And again, you don’t want to ever give the impression that every instance of any given ailment is a manifestation of an inner wound. But nevertheless, we are so mysteriously and simultaneously physical and spiritual beings, and our bodies and souls are so intimately connected that it’s often impossible to separate the two.”
Dr. Healy is a professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and has authored several books, including Healing: Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World. Denver Ablaze is hosting Dr. Healy in Denver for a conference on healing Nov. 18-19.
“In the Eucharist, we encounter Jesus and Jesus is the healer.”
There are many dimensions to healing, and it is oftentimes a complex and prolonged process, because wounds can run deep. Healing also comes in many different forms because wounds manifest themselves in countless ways.
“There are as many different kinds of healing as there are different ways to lack wholeness as a human being,” Dr. Healy explained, “I recently heard a very good definition of healing. Very simply, it’s restoration to wholeness and communion. I love that definition because wholeness encompasses all of who we are as human beings: The physical, the emotional, the psychological and the spiritual.”
A Risk of Faith
God created humanity both physical and spiritual, a unity of body and soul. As such, it only follows that in order to find the true healing that only Christ can bring, humans must have not only a spiritual encounter with him, but also a physical one. Thankfully, Jesus so generously gives us this each week at the holy sacrifice of the Mass as we gather around the Eucharist together. In the actual and physical consumption of the bread and the wine, the people of God experience mystical effects far beyond what can be observed — and this includes healing.
“In the Eucharist, we encounter Jesus and Jesus is the healer,” Dr. Healy emphasized. “So if we receive the Eucharist in faith — and we should keep in mind that Eucharist refers to the entire Eucharistic liturgy, not just the consecrated host, but the the whole gift of the Holy Mass, of gathering with God’s people to have made present to us again the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, which is the source of all healing, and then to receive him into our very bodies as the medicine of immortality — if we receive in faith, it cannot help but be healing.”
Of course, like the hemorrhaging woman, in order to truly be healed, we must approach Jesus in the Eucharist with pure faith — something that, admittedly, many Catholics do not do each week at Mass. The question we must ask ourselves is: are we like those who merely bump into Jesus, or are we like the woman who was healed?
“The reality is, lots of people bumped into him, but they didn’t touch him because they didn’t have faith and they didn’t experience his healing power,” Dr. Healy said. “That is also true when we meet Jesus in the Eucharist. So many people just bump into him, but they don’t come with the faith of that woman.”
This Eucharistic Revival we’re presently entering has the potential to rekindle the faith needed to truly experience the healing Jesus wants to give us in the Eucharist. And there is indeed real power there; as Dr. Healy attests: “I do know of occasions where people have experienced significant physical healings in receiving the Eucharist, and also emotional and spiritual healings.”
In tandem with faith, approaching Jesus for healing also involves risk. Oftentimes, people become comfortable in their wounds and either get stuck or refuse to seek the healing Jesus wants to give them. However, it is within the risk of stepping out in faith that Jesus works, and the inherent risk of belief in the Real Presence will not go unrewarded.
“One thing we see in the Gospels time and time again is that faith involves taking risks,” Dr. Healy pointed out. “The people who come to Jesus for healing, they take risks. And the Lord rewards that risk in faith.”
It is in that risk that our souls are laid bare and Jesus’s work will be made full in our hearts. So take the risk; as you approach Jesus in the Eucharist, step out in faith and ask him for the healing that only he can give. Only then will you hear those sweetly piercing words: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed.”
Denver Ablaze Conference
Nothing is Impossible for God: Be Empowered for Mission
Nov. 18 – 19
Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Foxfield
More info and registration: denverablaze.com