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Tag Archives: Healing

Homily: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

“In communion with Him and with one another, let us discover once again where and for whom the Lord is calling us today to serve in His name.”
Sr. Mary Sujita (9th Superior General of the Sisters of Notre Dame)

The readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time cycle B (Mark 1:29-39) can be found here.

The scripture scholars understand the healings and exorcisms written in the Gospels through the discipline of “Form Criticism.” Scholars will tell you that the formulaic structures of these stories indicate use in liturgical settings, such as synagogue worship services. These stories of healing and exorcism fit well with the Jewish feast of Yom Kippur, and perhaps they were written and used for just this purpose.

Mark Allan Powell tells us in his book Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee that “the healings and exorcisms were experienced as an incursion of otherworldly power. Historically, we must acknowledge that Jesus presented himself as a person through whom such power could and did operate, and that those around him experienced him as a channel of such power. The fact that the power was said to operate for healing is also significant, for it indicates what sort of spirit person Jesus was.”

What sort of spirit people are we?

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us.
Mark 9:38-40

In the healing traditions of the Catholic Church we have something called Extreme Unction. The words may sound strange to you, but you know them by another name; Last Rites, or Anointing of the Sick.

Richard Rohr called Extreme Unction a “sin management system” because we tended to use the anointing as the last chance to get things right with God. Healing does not have to be a last ditch effort. We are called to heal and in the process transform ourselves and our communities.

Extreme Unction may be as close as we get to experiencing the healing touch of Jesus, and it is sad that it only comes at the end of our lives.

Megan McKenna, in her book Tasting the Word of God: Commentaries on the daily lectionaries, tells us that “the disciples have seen Jesus heal, and now they are sent out to the villages with the authority to heal and cast out any spirit that hinders people from living as the children of God, imitating his own work.”

Megan also reminds us that “as believers, this is our work, our calling together – some for a lifetime, others for a time of apprenticeship and learning, others to encourage and sustain those on the road for the Lord.”

So, this is our work as believers, and if we are going to imitate Jesus and heal people, we are going to get our hands dirty. This is not something we can add to a list of prayer intentions or names of people we pray for during hourly adoration. No, if we are going to imitate Jesus we need to recognize those people in our lives that need healing and offer the compassion of Jesus.

Another item to note; Jesus did not heal only those who were Jews. There was no litmus test for people to be deserving of healing. Jesus didn’t even require people to believe in God before they were healed. If we are going to imitate Jesus we are called to heal Atheists as well as Christians.

A man asked Rabbi Hillel to teach him the entire Torah, the five books of Moses, while standing on one foot. And Hillel did.

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That’s the whole Torah, he said. All the rest is commentary. Now go and study.
Modern Lessons From Hillel

If you ask, how do I heal those around me, the answer begins with compassion. We need to eliminate our emphasis on being right and replace it with compassion for others.

If you take one thing from this homily it should be to search your heart and ask yourself what is painful to you, then never bring that pain to somebody else. That is the sort of spirit people we are called to be.

It will not be easy because we have created lepers and outcasts in our society and we are encouraged to treat those people with injustice, inequality and lack of respect. Some of our religious leaders have institutionalized injustice, inequality and lack of respect, but we can always turn to Jesus for our example.

I pray that when you hear words of violence, hatred, or disdain for others that you will remember instead those stories of Jesus healing the sick and respond with compassion.

God bless,

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Homily: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

Perhaps we could spend some time examining our preconceptions about whom we consider “worthy” of leading or teaching us. How do we even begin to look at one another with the eyes of God, to see in the most unexpected of people those whom God has chosen to lead?
Kate Huey

The readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time cycle B (Mark 1:21-28) can be found here.

The scripture scholar will tell you that the scribes taught through the words and deeds of Rabbis and the OT scripture. This is where they derive their authority.

Jesus, unlike the scribes, did not teach by leaning on the authority of the Jewish establishment. Jesus taught by his own authority, and the people were amazed.

The scripture scholar will also tell you that Jesus’ teaching was more than mere words. Jesus taught through His healing deeds. Healing the man with the unclean spirit is one of the many healing stories of Jesus and healing is a significant theme of Mark’s Gospel.

They point to the very prominent role that healing plays in the Gospel records. These stories also deepen our understanding of Jesus’s message, showing that God’s healing action can come through human instruments used to usher in the Kingdom of God.
Francis Geddes (Contemplative Healing: The Congregation as Healing Community) p. 21

What does it mean to be a healing community? Just like Jesus, we need to place healing people’s suffering at the center of our deeds. Our communities must be grounded in compassion for all creation.

In the Gospel account for this Sunday, Jesus didn’t look at the man to determine if he was worthy before healing him. We are asked to heal those we disparage, judge unacceptable or as unimportant without assessing worthiness.

People who are broken, entrenched in poverty, suffer from violence and injustice need our love and healing.

This is not something we can simply add to our list of intentions at Sunday Mass. It is not something we can hand-off to the parish priest. We need to perform the deeds, just as Jesus did. If we are successful people will be amazed and wonder under what authority we teach and heal.

“Ye cannot live for yourselves; a thousand fibres connect you with your fellow-men, and along those fibres, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects.”
Reverend Henry Melvill

If you take one thing away from this homily it should be that our communities are a source of God’s healing power. We are asked to look around and see who in our lives needs healing. In our compassion and through our Church we can be an agent of healing for those who suffer. Jesus showed us the way, and now it is our turn.

God bless,

The Benefits of Prayer (pt.1)

If you want a concrete example of the practice of living in the present moment, surfers, take a look at the blog by Stephanie’s mom. All I can say is: Wow! Thank you for this.

“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on High? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Micah 6:6-7

We can see how we prayed in the ancient past, perhaps even today.

That night, my husband and I did not sleep at all. We wept and wept. Privately, we each pleaded with the universe to make the follow-up sonogram come out normal. We offered up our own body parts in exchange: eyes, arms, feet.

The universe was deaf.

NATALIE ANGIER

In the future how will we pray? In the realm of keeping an open mind, I have another blog for your review, dear surfers. While you are at the blog, leave a message of encouragement.

The benefits of praying are widely debated. The blogger, and a friend of the blogger, have an opinion that is common for many people today.

For a more scientific look at prayer, surfers, head over to the Dr. Larry Dossey interview with Oprah. Dr. Larry was discussing topics from his book Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine. The book identifies statistical studies that show prayer is proven to work in the medical field. You must make up your own mind, surfers.

I came away from this book [Healing Words by Larry Dossey] largely unconvinced that non-local intercessory prayer can be scientifically equated with the effects of human consciousness on random machine activity as demonstrated by Jahn and his colleagues at the PEAR. Nevertheless, I was arrested by a charming little tale inserted almost as an afterthought into the last section of the book. Dossey tenderly recounts a visit to a patient of his who was dying of cancer. The dying man had never been a religious person, but revealed to the doctor that he had been praying frequently. When asked what he prayed for, he replied that he didn’t pray for anything.

“How would I know what to ask for?” he queried.

“Well,” said Dossey, “if prayer is not for asking, then what is it for?”

“It isn’t for anything,” the patient responded, “it mainly reminds me that I am not alone.”

Somebody say Amen.
Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D.