What Is Healing?
(Posted June 22, 2021)
“To heal is to touch with love that which we previously touched with fear.”
-Stephen Levine, Author
“Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?”
-Fulton J. Sheen, Life is Worth Living
When we talk about healing, there’s a real “third rail” of emotion attached to it, and many questions. Why is it that some people pray and are healed, and others don’t achieve this? What does healing really entail, and is it our “fault” if we don’t heal, or the person we pray for doesn’t heal? What is healing, anyway?
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Healing Is Not Curing
I can tell one thing healing is not. It is not “curing.” Sometimes there is no cure. Healing involves so much more.
When we read the Gospel this Sunday, we learn the story of two women – one middle aged, and one just a young teen. What they share in common is that in the text they have no names. The Bible doesn’t often waste energy writing about women. In fact, the only thing we learn about the identity of the little girl is that she is Jairus’s daughter. In First Century writing, women’s identity was defined by their relation to the dominant male in their lives, without a name of their own. However, this Sunday has nothing to do with feminist issues.
A Spectacular Encounter with Jesus
This Sunday, these two women become eternally identifiable as important figures in the Jesus story. This identity has to do with the other thing these two women have in common: a spectacular encounter with Jesus. The middle-aged woman had been bleeding for 12 years and no doctor could stanch the flow of blood. In Jewish culture women were considered unclean, contaminated, shunned whenever they bled. The little girl, aged 12, was at death’s door already when her father sought Jesus. She crossed over into death only to be raised by the hand of Christ himself.
What Is Healing?
In both cases, FAITH was the causative agent in their healing. When the bleeding woman reached out her hand to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe, he literally felt his power flow out of him and merge with her. That’s what healing is all about. Merging personal energy with the grace of God.
What Healing Requires
Ironically, there’s one sure sign that healing has taken place: scars. At my age, the scars on my body are a veritable road map of the twists and turns in that long road. Some of them are significant, like the five scars left from that many operations to unsuccessfully try to become a mother. Other ones are subtle, minor, visible only to me, like a faint double scar on my hand when, on a New Years Day walk, I walked on icy steps, slid down the stairs and cut myself on a bent nail. But you see, that particular scar reminds me of the many good times my husband and I spent together each New Year’s Day, together.
Healing isn’t curing. Healing, whether of body, mind or spirit, involves a personal commitment to the effort to become more whole than one is, and at the same time, submitting to God and God’s plan for that, whatever the outcome.
Whatever that needs healing, bring it with you this Sunday. Whatever scars you bear, consider them badges of courage as together we journey through life.