Friday, February 10, 2012

We are called to cure, we are called to heal

By Father Paul Henson, O.Carm.

The great St. Paul is the apostle to the Greeks. We hear that he became everything; he became all so that all — or at least the people that he would touch — would become Christians, this idea about becoming all, about going out to people and bringing them to good news.

St. Paul used the image of the body of Christ. This is how he described it: He described it as the human body. The body of Christ is the human body. He went on to say that when one of the portions of the human body hurts, the whole body hurts. Think about it. If you've broken your arm and you're in a sling, the whole body hurts because you feel incapacitated. You can't use both your arms. Your body suffers. When you have a rock in your shoe and you're walking, and you don't have time to take it out and your big toe is stepping on that little rock, the whole body hurts. When you have arthritis on your joints, the whole body hurts. So this idea about hurting and curing and this idea about being relieved in the Lord, Job, in the first reading, understood completely what suffering meant, what it meant to hurt.

Remember the story of Job? Job was the faithful servant. For whatever reason, the Lord said, I want to see how trustworthy Job is of me. So a lot of tragedies happened to Job — he lost his family, he lost his wealth, he lost a bunch of things that made him very happy. In the readings, he's saying, "Lord, why are you doing this to me? Why are you making me suffer? Why are you making my body hurt? Why are you making me unhappy and hurtful? Why, Lord?" And he just says, "Lord, what more is there worth living?" This idea of the body hurting, we all know what that feels like when one part of the body hurts, everyone hurts.

St. Paul also used that imagery to describe disunity, how among ourselves, perhaps, we ignore each other, we ignore the pain of society, we ignore the pain within our own families where we can say I'm sorry, where we cannot reconcile, where we just ignore one another. That breaks down the body. I mean, it really does.

Here's the good news when we hear about Jesus — Jesus isn't only about curing. For example, when you go to the doctor, you get a broken arm, you're in a sling, you're in it for six weeks; and in six weeks your arm is cured. You can throw a ball, you can hold whatever. You're arm is cured. With this idea about Jesus, Jesus not only cures — we hear in the story today. Jesus cured many people with diseases, that's what scriptures say. He had the power to cure people. And he did it; he used it.

But it's not enough to cure, to be cured. It's not enough when you have cancer, for example, and it's in remission or maybe it seems like it's cured. It's not enough, because you also need to be healed. This is what Jesus does. He heals the person. And what is that thing about healing? Somehow you feel complete. Somehow, when Jesus was healing people, when he was curing people, he also embraced them. He also gave them a sense of purpose, a sense of dignity. He said, "Go, your diseases have been cured, your faith has healed you." You've become whole. You go out and proclaim, like many of the blind people, or many of the crippled people, would jump up and they would go and proclaim Jesus Christ.

We have that power to cure. We have that power to heal. Because we've been baptized with Christ, because Jesus lives in us, we receive him every Sunday, we have that power to cure and to heal. I remember once when I was in Peru I visited someone very much like Simon's mother-in-law. It was a small adobe house. I went with one of the agents, pastoral agents that were with me. We went into this small, little house. And this lady was sick. She was literally sick, all covered up. So we prayed for her; and the craziest thing happened. The woman threw her blankets off, she got up, and she made us coffee, she made us tea. I mean, that's the thing. We all have that capacity. But we got to believe it. We got to proclaim it. We got to use it. That's what St. Paul says. I believe, but if I don't use my belief it's worthless — I'm nobody, I'm empty, I'm dead if I don't use my faith to heal and to cure people.

So that's our challenge today and this week. Who's hurting in your family? Who's hurting in the parish community? Who's hurting in our society. And not only to think about it, it's worthless if you just think about it. It's worthless. Do something about it. Go and reach somebody who's crying, who's in need. All the people within our parish who are hurting. You got to go and you got to heal. You have to go and you got to heal. You have to go and you got to cure. But you got to believe it. When someone at school is hurting, you have an obligation as a Christian, as a Catholic, someone who receives the body and blood of Christ, to heal that broken heart. You have an obligation to defend those who that are being persecuted. We all have that obligation because we receive the body and blood of Christ. We can cure; we can heal.

So that's your obligation, that's our challenge this week. Go out and cure somebody. Go out and heal somebody. But do it in the name of Christ. Don't just let it sit. Go out and do it. We receive the body and blood of Christ to remind us once again that the Holy Spirit lives in us. We have the power to make the world a better place, to right the world, to cure and heal. So as you come forward you say, "Amen. I believe, Lord. I believe I can cure. I believe I can heal" and go out and heal those who are brokenhearted.

Father Paul Henson, O.Carm., is principal of Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino. Reach him at (818) 345-1672, or e-mail

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