|Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.|
During a retreat, Jerome, a bright young man came to me and said excitedly that God had healed him of his headache. It did not sound to me as a remarkable healing worth mention. After all an aspirin tablet could have given him the same relief, I thought to myself. He perhaps noted the indifferent expression on my face and began to impress on me what that healing meant to him. He was suffering from this headache for a long time. Whenever he got that migraine pain, he used to depend on medication for temporary relief but the headache would recur rather frequently.
“I Am The Lord, Your Healer” (Exodus 15:26)
During the retreat, he had an acute pain. He waited for the Eucharistic Adoration. During the prayer service, he offered that pain to the Lord. He received a clear vision of the Crucified Lord in the Holy Eucharist. He could see the thorns on the Crown of Jesus pressing His head sharply and he realized that the pain must have been excruciating. It occurred to him that Jesus was bearing that pain for his salvation because Jesus loved him. Hence, there was no complaint in the Heart of Jesus as He was taking that bitter chalice from the Hands of His Father and offering it to Him for the salvation of this young man. At this point Jerome offered his own pain to the Heavenly Father with the pain of the wounds from the thorns piercing the Head of Jesus. He felt a soothing sensation spreading over his forehead reaching down through his body as a gentle wave. He sat there looking at the Holy Eucharist lost completely in the current of the Love of God. Eventually when he came to himself, he felt very fresh and light, without any headache. Great joy filled his heart!
He continued to explain to me that he could have got rid of his headache with the help of a tablet as he always did before but he said he would have forgotten all about it the next morning. This relief of pain on the other hand has become an unforgettable experience, because more than a mere absence of pain, it has come across to him as a Healing Touch of God. The Love of God sent vibrations into every part of his body and filled his heart with a great delight! He said that his headache was a very small thing but he realized how great was God’s concern for him that He took care of his little pain. What Jesus said became very true for him, “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30) Enthusiastically he affirmed that earlier when he had read such passages, he used to imagine that these were mere figures of speech not to be taken seriously. How could God care for such trifles of every human individual? He continued "But now I am convinced that the word of God is true in the fullest sense. God knows and cares for every single detail of my life. Nothing escapes His Loving Providence. The Word of God for me is more alive and credible now." This healing was an eye-opener to him, leading him to experience God's Presence as very tangible and close. He knew God was by his side directing the daily events of his life for his good. This healing changed his vision and way of life completely. He concluded saying that he has decided to do what Jesus had directed the man of Gerasene freed from his demonic possessions, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much mercy the Lord has had on you." (Mark 5:19)
“Your Faith Has Made You Well” (Luke 17:19)
The testimony of the healing of this young man reveals the saving significance of healing. Healing is not a mere relief of bodily pain or a restoration of physical health. It is a deep experience of the Love of God. In other words healing is a tangible way in which the abundance of God's Love is poured into a person, transforming his life completely. A restoration of physical health is not the end but merely the beginning of the healing process. By His Healing Touch, what God targets is not the bodily well-being alone but the very salvation of the whole person. God begins to act on a physical malady as an entry point. Through the bodily healing, a person comes face to face with God and opens the doors of life to Him. That is when God is able to come in to transform our human life to a celebration. Jesus said, "Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me." (Revelations 3:20) Bodily healing is a divine knock at the door of the heart. In the Bible, the banquet with God is the glorious sign of the experience of salvation. It is to salvation that all healings open the door. The Love of the Lord is tangibly experienced in every miraculous healing and Jesus is accepted as the Lord and Saviour of life.
The healing experience of this young man is a clear illustration of the glorious Plan of the Lord behind the miraculous healings of the gospels. As we study the gospel narrations of the miracles, we understand that Jesus worked miracles not as spectacular stunts to impress the crowds or as frivolous exhibitions of arbitrary power or as dazzling displays of Divine vengeance to punish his enemies. In fact, the refusal to work wonders that would please the fancy or constrain the admiration of the crowds. His turning down Satan's proposition to Him to jump from the parapet of the Temple and win the crowds was a clear indication of his stand (cf. Matthew 4:1-11). He was challenged by some of those standing beneath the Cross to come down from the Cross and save Himself and so prove His miraculous powers (cf. Matthew 27:39-44). He did not give in to the popular demands, not in His lifetime or in His death. Nor did He use His miraculous power to meet His own personal needs as he was tempted to change stones to bread (cf. Matthew 4:3,4).
“Be Of Good Cheer, I Have Overcome The World” (John 16:33)
The healings of Jesus were no pompous manifestation of Divine Power, but convincing proof by evidence of God’s Compassionate Love to the suffering humanity. The healings proved that God has intervened definitively into the human history to be the answer to the cries of humankind. The disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus - querying whether He was the promised Saviour of humankind. He referred them to the miraculous healings that they had seen and heard of, “Go and tell John what you hear and see; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear and the poor have the good news preached to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5) The miraculous healings of Jesus were clear signs of God’s kingdom breaking in.
Jesus started His public ministry by proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mark 1:15) This was an invitation to prepare for the reign of God in the hearts of the listeners. He was about to usher in God’s rule into the history of humankind. He was taking authority over all the powers of sin and pressures of evil. While casting out demons, He was blamed by the Pharisees that His power of exorcism was from Beelzebub, the prince of demons. He defended His miraculous exorcisms as powerful signs of God’s Saving Presence. God was taking authority over everything destructive in humankind. “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand; and if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Be-el′zebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matthew 12: 25-28). This was a solemn declaration that with the exorcism and healings, the Kingdom of God has already come into human history. In the person of Jesus, the long awaited time of salvation has arrived.
The rule of satan is overthrown. Satan was a “strong man” ruling over the world. This reign has come to an end. He is bound and kept in custody. Jesus has entered his territory and vanquished him once and for all. Jesus explained this saving strategy, “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man.” (Matthew 12:29)
He Will Come And Save You” (Isaiah 35:4)
The delight of Paradise was the joy of right order. Material nature and animal world were controlled by man, as it was man who gave a name to everything. The husband and the wife were united in the intimacy of love as Adam accepted his wife saying, “You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” The universe was filled with the Glory of God! It was man’s sin that turned everything upside down. The material world rebelled against man and he had to shed sweat to earn his daily bread. Man turned against woman, blaming her as the cause of her downfall. Pain entered into human race in the form of illness and disease. These ailments became the doorway to death. Satan took on the destiny of mankind and of the universe.
Jesus came as the Saviour to overthrow this rule of satan. He ushered in God’s Kingdom by rebuking the destructive natural phenomena of the wind and the waves. All the nature miracles were intended to bring the universe within the aegis of God and His care. Without any sweat of the brow, large crowds has its sumptuous feed. Empty wine jars were filled miraculously at Cana. The sick and the disabled were restored to health. Sins were forgiven and demonic possessions were broken. The dead were raised to life. The ill effects of sin were effaced by the miraculous works of Jesus.
As men fell for the falsity of satan and yield to evil in an act of surrender and gave up God, the power of satan's rule came upon to the giddy limit that satan can could make his vainglorious boast to Jesus about his control, “The devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me’. ”(Matthew 4:8-9) The miraculous workings of Jesus are the effective devastation and despoilment of the stronghold of the devil who is now bound and rendered powerless by the Lord. Sin, sickness, natural catastrophe and death were the manifest showing of satan's deleterious rule. With the coming of Jesus, satan's rule is annihilated everywhere. Humankind is no more prey to satan's tyranny thanks to Jesus' mercy.
The miracles of Jesus were the saving activities of the great Liberator as He proclaimed in His first sermon in the synagogue of Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Jesus' healings were the compelling evidence to those who were disposed to the perception of God definitely at work in Jesus saving His people. Witnessing the miracles of Jesus it is recorded the people “glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” (Lk 7:16) After having gone about healing every sickness, forgiving all forms of sin, saving broken families, Jesus was preparing for the culmination of His work of salvation in His death and resurrection. He defeated the power of satan’s rule finally on the Cross and dispelled all the darkness of sin and despair in the splendour of the glory of the Resurrection. The mission of Jesus for our salvation will have its crowning glory in the Second Coming which is the point of culmination when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelations 21:4)
“I Saw Satan Fall Like Lightning” (Luke 10:18)
The miracles give us great confidence in the Saving Power of Jesus today. We are not anymore helpless victims of the power of evil. We have a God to intervene and exercise authority over our infirmities. Being rooted in the unchanging and all-surpassing love of Christ, we will not be shaken at the storms that must pass through our lives while we walk this earth.
The healing activity of Jesus should continue in the Church so that the Mercy of God should be experienced by everyone at all times. No one shall live in fear of Satan’s tyranny. All should know that Jesus is in authority. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) It is this Heavenly Power that is handed over to His followers. “He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity… Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.” (Matthew 10:1,8) The disciples obeyed the Master. “They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” (Mark 16:20)
The followers of Jesus who experienced deeply the Saving Mercy of God should become powerful channels for the healing to flow from the Lord to reach those in need. St. Paul explains this ministry: “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Let Us Pray
Heavenly Father we praise You for Your Great Compassion for us Your children. You moulded us in love. You see all that is within us. In every need, You have provided for us; comforting and strengthening us to live for You. Even when we failed You and slipped into the deception of death, You sent Your Son to save us. Now by His wounds we are healed. We remember Your Merciful Touch and we seek to be channels of Your healing. We offer every breath of our life to live and proclaim Your Glory.