06 September 2006

Speak a word of healing

22nd Week OT (W): 1 Cor 3.1-9 and Luke 4.38-44
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX

When you think about being sick or being well and not doing well spiritually and doing very well spiritually, do you think about how your body feeds your soul and how your soul animates—gives life to—your body? Since the human person is a body/soul—not a machine with a ghost inside!—but a composite of flesh and bone and animated life, there must be a some basic connection between being physically or spiritually diseased or healthy. After all, it is no accident that Jesus both preaches and heals, proclaims his healing Word and restores health to the afflicted. It is for this purpose that he was sent.

Cancer, infection, catastrophic injury. Useless anxiety, wounded empathy, and all-consuming narcissism. These are all demons, all maladies who speak too often and say too much, robbing us of our ease, our fitness and vigor. But what power do they have over us when we are focused on our purpose? How can they wound us, infect us, trouble us at all when we are living the life of Christ, when we are rehearsing daily our part in the gospel drama of redemption and growing in holiness?

Jesus rebukes the woman’s fever. Pulls it out of her. He speaks directly to the source of her illness, admonishing the worry and fret to leave her. It does. She rises and serves him. And the word of her healing spreads, bringing the sick from all over. Each is cured and demons are expelled. Isn’t this the pattern of our salvation and the preaching of the Word? Do you recognize it? We are brought to Christ by someone else; we hear his Word spoken; we are healed of our sin, we rise to serve his Body, the Church; the good news spreads; other are healed body and soul—cured of disease and relieved of their demons. And Christ’s purpose is made flesh and bone, given life again in our New Life in him.

We know the sources of most of our physical ailments. Medical science is more than capable of pointing us to the various causes of bodily disease. But what causes our spiritual dis-ease? What grows in us to make us anxious, cold-hearted, self-righteous, disobedient, basically, sinful? Paul tells the Corinthians that they are not yet a spiritual people—they are still fleshy, still infants in Christ. And he knows this b/c they are jealous and contentious, some claiming to be of Paul and some Apollos. They have forgotten their start and their end, their origins and their goal. They don’t know who they are b/c they don’t know where they are going. They have failed to understand that they were made for a purpose and then redeemed to fulfill that purpose.

There is no magic here. I am not suggesting that knowing our divine purpose mystically protects us from car accidents, stomach aches, and the flu; or that we will never feel the touch of a dark spirit. Knowing our divine purpose gives us a point above disease to focus on, a goal, a signpost beyond illness and injury, a future health for which we can reach, and in reaching, grasp with God’s perfecting gifts of love and mercy. We are not abandoned to our sicknesses. Being ill—in body and soul—is never about being forsaken by God. This is our chance to surrender any allegiance to despair, any commitment to something or someone other than Christ. Being ill is the crisis of body and soul that tightens the ear to hear the Word preached, to hear the healing rebuke of Jesus. Now, follow the pattern: spread that healing Word, speak your purpose and gather the crowd around our Christ. We belong to him. We are his field and his co-workers. We are his purpose, his Body--wounded, healed, and finally perfected.

No comments:

Post a Comment