Christ heals through us

Christ heals through us

During the time of Jesus, physical illness is considered by many as an effect of spiritual infirmity. It is even labeled as a punishment for sin. The old world conceives reality as a spiritual one. “Now you are well again, do not sin any more…” is His admonition to those physically healed. In many healing episodes, Jesus would forgive the sins of the sick before healing his or her sickness.  He would tackle our spiritual state by his forgiveness of sins and then deal with our physical state.  In a way, many of our small or even bigger health issues result from the malfunctions of our soul.   Why not deal will the root cause of our problems.  Why not turn to God in honest repentance.  That may be the beginning of a wide variety of healings.

We have to careful though not to equate illness with sinfulness, as the ancient Israelites used to do, considering  illness as a punishment from God for some wrongdoing.  There is no such one-to-one correspondence between sin and bodily ailment.  Some of the greatest saints have endured agonizing illnesses during their lives whereas some of the worst sinners have enjoyed perfect health during their lives.  We can never be certain that a sickness is psychosomatic or an effect of sin.  But we can always ask ourselves if our spiritual state has something to do with our physical ailments.

When Jesus tells the leper to show himself to the priest and make an offering for the cleansing as Moses prescribed, He was actually telling him to straighten his relationship with God, that is, to take care of his spiritual state as well. What we should  pray and hope for is the spiritual healing of our sicknesses. And such spiritual healing is not necessarily manifested by the physical cure of our physical infirmities. Spiritual healing transcends physical suffering. Spiritual healing touches the soul. It brings about inner peace. It makes us accept the redemptive benefits of physical maladies.

When we begin to see our own suffering in the light of Christ’ life, we acquire a personal closeness to the Source of all healing. We begin to appreciate that the deeper the pain,  the nearer we become to God. Sickness can be a way of making us get closer to our Redeemer. It makes us closer to one another. It is an opportunity of making families and communities grow in the bond of love and friendship. It is an opportunity to support and help one another in the spirit of solidarity.

Our celebration of the World Day of the Sick (February 11) highlights the healing ministry of the Church.  It reminds us that service to the sick and the suffering cannot be neglected.  It recognizes the great efforts of doctors, nurses, health care institutions and pastoral care givers to restore health to those affected with illness and disease. It invites us to accept our own spiritual woundedness and our own need for God’s healing.

Pope Benedict XVI, in a message for the World Day of the Sick, encourages “sick people and the suffering always to find a safe anchor in faith, nourished by listening to the Word of God, by personal prayer and by the sacraments.” Let us ask our Lord to transform us into wounded healers who can bring spiritual as well as physical healing to our human brokenness.