Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - Updated: 3:30 pm
QUESTION: My question is about “healings.” Do they really happen today? Do these people on TV or others who say they can heal really do that?
ANSWER: The foundation for an understanding of “healing” should rest on the clarity that the New Testament provides.
In Luke’s Gospel, healings are said to be a sign of the kingdom of God (Luke 7:18-23). Matthew’s Gospel also associates the two when he tells us that “Jesus toured all of Galilee. He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom and cured the people of every disease and illness” (Matthew 4:23).
In the Acts of the Apostles we find evidence that the disciples of Jesus had the power to heal in the name of Jesus (e.g. Acts 3:11-16). In the Letter of James that power is placed in the context of prayer and action by the community of faith and its leaders (James 5:13-15). Finally, St. Paul speaks of the gifts given within the church. In listing them, he mentions those “who are given the power to heal” (1 Corinthians 12:28).
From the Scriptures we learn several things. We see that Jesus negates the commonly held belief that sickness and sin are related. One is not sick because of sin. Sickness is a part of the human condition. It is a result of pathogens, genetic makeup, environment or our lack of proper care for our physical health.
We also see that Jesus did “heal” within his ministry on earth. Finally, we see that healing continued at the hands of the disciples of Jesus. What then can we say about healings in our own time?
It seems clear that healings can occur today. They can happen as simply as when one ceases to do something that is harmful. Healing also happens because of the intervention of health care providers. Healing may also occur when we make decisions regarding painful emotional issues in our lives (for example, to forgive or to accept the apology of another). Healing also occurs in the sacrament of reconciliation (confession).
Healings happen in our world, perhaps even more often than we expect. It seems, however, that too often we look for them in extraordinary events when perhaps they occur in much more “ordinary” ways.
But what are we to think of those who claim the power to heal (on television or elsewhere)? I believe that the power of faith can be a tremendous healing force in a person’s life. I assume that most of the people who seek healing have faith and want to be healed. I also believe in the power of prayer. I am, however, skeptical of those who seem to heal “on command” before the bright lights of the media.
But healings do happen in “ordinary” ways (utilizing the gifts of nature or the abilities of people such as physicians). This, however, does not discount the power of God to also work in “extraordinary” ways. It is not a simple task to discern and distinguish healings. Faith is a path by which God can do amazing things in our lives. Unfortunately, some today take advantage of the faith of others for profit or fame.
Father Bober is administrator of the grouping that includes St. Kilian in Adams/Cranberry townships and Holy Sepulcher in Glade Mills.