Psalm 116:12-13, 15-18
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Why do we not experience miracles like those that happened in the life of Jesus and His disciples?
All throughout the scriptures, especially in the Gospels and New Testament Epistles, we hear about these miraculous healings – the deaf speak, the blind see, the lame walk, and dead rise to life and many other things beyond these. And yet it can seem that today there is little of that power of God at work in the Church. Has the Lord pulled away from us? Or have our prayers fallen on deaf ears?
Certainly our prayers do not fall on deaf ears and our God has not turned away from us to go away. On the contrary, he has come quite close! With the celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi today we celebrate the great miracle and mystery that God comes so close that we are joined together physically in our own bodies. Our God has not gone away. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we all must admit that we have not always sought to draw closer to Him with our whole heart. Sometimes we hold back something of ourselves. We’re afraid to reach out to the Lord. Where miracles could be worked, we refuse to ask. And where we ask, often it is not filled with faith but more as a simple hope that doesn’t expect a miracle but would rejoice if it took place.
When I reflect on miracle stories in the scriptures, two of them strike me more than others because of their circumstances. Matthew 9 tells the story of the woman who reaches out and touches only the edge of the cloak of Christ and the second, from Acts 5, of how the people lined up cots that St. Peter’s shadow might pass over them and they were healed. There are others like them, but these two point to a reality that it was not just the touch of Christ and the disciples that healed but also the faith of the person who received healing. The cloak of Christ and the shadow of Peter were not miraculous things, but the heart of people in need of healing was so compelled by faith that even those things were used to transform hearts and to heal people both in body and spirit. And in the Eucharist the Church celebrates every single day, we have something much greater than a mere cloak or shadow. We have the Real Presence of Jesus Christ – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Word Made Flesh, God with us.
There are many among us who have ailments, whether in body or in spirit, and to say that you have received the Eucharist with faith or receiving the Anointing of the Sick with faith and were not healed does not necessarily mean you lack faith. God may have a plan for you in your suffering, but at the same time, He may have a plan for your healing. Every one of us needs healing. Everyone. If you don’t need a physical healing, you need a spiritual one, because the fact is that not a single one of us is perfect yet. We’re all wounded by sin and many are still bound in the chains of sin. The unfortunate reality is that we’ve become comfortable in our slavery. Like the Israelite people in the days of Pharaoh and the oppression, we’ve resigned ourselves to be slaves rather than free persons.
In the Gospel of John we hear another miracle story about a man who was ill for thirty-eight years and the Lord approaches and asks an interesting question: “Do you want to be healed?” It seems an obvious question, but don’t pass it by too quickly. Each week we gather and before receiving Holy Communion say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” I SHALL be healed. We say words of deep faith and humility, but do we mean it? Do we genuinely desire to be healed? Or are we simply content to remain in our sin, feigning faith?