June 29, 2018

Christ the Cornerstone

Saints Peter and Paul carried on Christ’s healing ministry

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold to give you, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk’ ”
(Acts 3:6).

“[Paul] called out in a loud voice, ‘Stand up straight on your feet.’ He jumped up and began to walk about”
(Acts 14:10).

The publication date for this column is June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. These two great saints are known for many things, especially their preaching and their pastoral leadership of the early Church, but there is another aspect of their ministry that deserves our careful attention today: the ministry of healing that both of these missionary disciples continued “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean.”

If we wanted to simplify the ministry of Jesus, we could say that he was a man of prayer who taught and who healed. Of course, his teaching and healing were multidimensional, addressing the mind and the heart, the body and the soul.

In fact, one of the most striking things about Jesus’ healing ministry is that it involved all aspects of the human person. What the health sciences today classify as physical, mental and emotional illnesses were all cured by the Lord’s healing touch. Even more, Jesus was able to heal the soul sickness that affected so many in his time by casting out demons, bringing hope to the hopeless and offering comfort to people in deep distress.

Jesus’ ministry was spiritual as well as physical. In fact, today we might say that the healing ministry of Jesus Christ was “holistic.” It was not a cold, uncaring science. It was a profound communication that touched the individual man or woman in his or her heart of hearts. We believe that the Lord’s touch can still cure whatever ails us, wherever it hurts—mind, body or soul.

As the Apostles Peter and Paul witnessed in their own healing ministries, a smile, a gentle word, and a comforting touch combined with the faith-filled command: “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk!” (Acts 3:6) can still work wonders.

Patients who are diagnosed with a serious illness are blessed to have available to them the professional care of doctors, nurses and other health care specialists who are instrumental in their treatment and, God willing, their recovery.

We should all thank God for the professionalism, care and concern shown to us as persons who need the medical skill and attention of these gifted “women and men in white.” But there’s no question that the miracle of healing comes from God alone. Competent health care professionals are essential, but all real healing comes from the Lord!

Saints Peter and Paul worked miracles in Jesus’ name not because of their own abilities. They were not magicians or even health care workers. They were instruments of God’s providence. Their faith was strong, and they allowed the Holy Spirit to work through them. The results were incredible. Closed minds were opened; stony hearts turned to hearts of flesh; lonely and anxious people found comfort and hope; and lame men and women “jumped up and began to walk!” This is the “holistic” healing power of Jesus!

We all know something about the miracle of healing. Most of us have experienced it either in our own lives or in the lives of others. It is never automatic, and it can’t be manipulated. That’s the work of charlatans who take advantage of people’s desperation, their eagerness to believe, in order to fake miracles of healing.

Peter and Paul were not fakers. They were holy men who, in spite of their many weaknesses (detailed in the New Testament for all to read), trusted absolutely in God’s power to heal our wounds and make us whole again.

The debate that has been raging in our country for many years now about universal access to health care—which the Church strongly supports—has largely overlooked the spiritual dimension of healing. This is a mistake. The secular sciences can only go so far. Much more is needed to achieve genuine healing in the lives of individuals, families and communities. We need to heal our souls and our minds and our bodies—all three. Only then will we truly be healthy and whole as human persons made in the image and likeness of God.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul today, let’s remember to pray for all health care professionals. And let’s pray for all pastors and Church ministers. Following the example of these great saints, may we all be healed—and help others heal—in Jesus’ name! †

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