Christ the Healer

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Healing Mass: Nov. 10, 2011
Isa 53:1-5, 10-11; Ps 102; 2 Cor 12:7b-10; John 15:1-8

The Catechism tells us (1509):

“Heal the sick!” The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies.

When the Lord created the world, sickness and death were not a part of it — for it was very good. Human beings, especially, he created in his own Image. And he created us in this state of “original harmony”: harmony between ourselves and God, between ourselves and each other, between ourselves and all creation, and especially within ourselves. But when our first parents broke that harmony with God through sin, their action penetrated the entire universe, breaking that original harmony, and so introducing suffering and death.

But the Lord did not leave us in our misery. Even that from the moment of the Fall, he reached out to us, revealing himself and his will, giving us grace, drawing us into covenants and relationship, saving us body and soul. The end goal toward which we are heading, the Book of Revelation tells us, is “the new heavens and a new earth,” when he will make all things new. Then “he will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order will have passed away.” (Rev 21:1-5)

That is where we are headed; that is where he is leading us: to complete the transformation, to total and radical healing, to a health and wholeness we can hardly imagine, united in him for all eternity.

But how do we get there? We get there through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. For in his incarnation, Christ took on our frailty as his own, becoming “like us in all things but sin.” He walked among us; and the sick came to him for healing. “He came to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of… his healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God.” (CCC 1503, 1505) When he heals the sick, the blind, the lame, the deaf, and more, we see his love, his compassion, his goodness, and his benevolent power to heal and save.

And yet, as the Catechism reminds us, “he did not heal all the sick.” For he did not come only to heal physical illnesses: he had a much greater objective. He came to heal the entire gaping wound of sin, and all its effects. And so he had a much greater strategy. As we heard in the first reading, he took on our sufferings and bore them; he carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our guilt.

And in taking on the fullness of our sufferings, he transformed them. No longer simply the tragic refuse of sin: in his pierced hands, suffering becomes a tool of healing, a tool of transformation. His death he made, not a dead end, but the Paschal passageway to the resurrection. And he invites us to follow: making our lives a living sacrifice united with him, embracing a death like his, so that we may arrive at a resurrection like his. And so that we may be coworkers in his ongoing project of saving this beautiful fallen world: as he saves us, and everyone and everything we love.

And so we do well, like St. Paul in our second reading, to bring our sicknesses and illnesses to him and ask for healing. But, as St. Paul discovered, some he will heal, demonstrating his love and power in us even now; but some he will allow it to remain, in us and for others. So that the Lord can say also to us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” And we can respond, like St. Paul: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” (2 Cor 12:9)

And so we come tonight to Christ, “the true vine,” asking to remain truly in him each day, so that we may bear much fruit.

  • We come to him, substantially present in the Eucharist, to receive that bread of Angels, his own body and blood.
  • We come to him, intimately present in sacramental confession, ready to forgive our sins and cleanse and strengthen us.
  • And we come to ask the prayers of those baptized in him. For “The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord.”

May we be truly open to him, to his will, his love, his power: the physician of souls and bodies, who took our infirmities and bore our diseases; the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.


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