Open to the Mercy and Compassion of God
At sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to Jesus, and laying his hands on each he cured them” Luke 4: v 40
…a great crowd from all parts…had come to hear Jesus and to be cured of their diseases…Everyone was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all.” Luke 6: v17-19
We journey through a world of beauty and pain, a world of peace and turmoil; we journey as disciples of Jesus who ‘healed all who came to Him’; we journey as a People of Hope, not only filled with hope in God but bearers of divine hope to this world. Hope is the expectation of a better and more whole, more peace-filled world. This hope becomes a well-spring of vision and energy that will bring a measure of healing and new beginnings to our sisters and brothers, to our world.
We tend to think that healing is something very rare and happens in places like Lourdes or through the lives of saints (long dead!). Yet Pope Francis has famously described our parishes as ‘field hospitals where all will find welcome, love and healing.’ All the Sacraments have a healing dimension and the Church as Sacrament of Christ is to be a healing presence in our world – and so every parish is to be a healing presence in its community, the ‘field hospital’ of Christ where the broken and hurting will find hope and healing. Healing is to become the ‘ordinary’, not the ‘extra-ordinary’, experience of all communities that celebrate the Eucharist – Jesus, the Broken Bread that makes us whole!
What is ‘Healing’? Healing is a journey into the wholeness, freedom and peace that God wants for each of us. It is part of the journey into the mystery of who we are in Christ, into the reality of being a beloved daughter or son of Abba, our Father. The human person is ‘a freedom for love’ made in the image and likeness of God. Whatever limits that ‘freedom for love’, whatever wounds or scars the image of God within us, Jesus comes to heal, forgive and set us free to be our true selves in Him. Sometimes this might involve the healing of our bodies (curing or restoring health). Often it will involve the healing of inner self: the healing of hurting memories, of rejection or inner pain that leads us to inner freedom enabling us to love more fully. This is true ‘wholeness’.
So what is healing prayer?
Firstly, it is believing that God’s desire for us is this wholeness and peace. Therefore in the quietness of our own prayer (and especially at Mass) we confidently bring to ‘Abba’ our Father our own brokenness and pain, physical or emotional, to the God of love.
Secondly, it can be bringing our need to our sisters and brothers in the Christian community for their prayer through what is called ‘the laying on of hands’. Often, Jesus would touch with his hands those who came to him – a gentle touch of compassion and love – and he taught the disciples to do the same. The Word of healing is made flesh in the hands of another when our touch is caring and respectful. Of course such healing prayer does not require physical contact if the recipient of such prayer is uncomfortable with touching.
Thirdly, healing is a ministry that flows from the Holy Spirit given in our baptism and confirmation and therefore like so many other ministries is not restricted to the ordained among us. There are opportunities to receive simple training that will encourage each of us to be ready to pray healing with others (not just for others) and a normal part of a parish’s ministry as God’s ‘field hospital’. This is not setting ourselves up as ‘healers’ – Jesus alone is the healer! We are simply allowing ourselves as part of the Body of Christ to be used by our Good Samaritan, Jesus, to pour the wine of compassion and healing upon wounded brothers and sisters.
Finally, healing is not just about our individual journeys into love’s freedom, but is also (even primarily) about being a Church not afraid to reach out and touch the wounds of our world, of the communities where God has placed us. When Jesus healed the lepers he ended their exclusion from society and reintegrated them. When Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood (constant periods) he challenged his society’s attitude to women and illness. When Jesus healed the centurion’s servant and praised his faith he challenged our attitude to ‘the enemy’. When Jesus raised up the Samaritan as an example of compassion he challenged racial and religious discrimination. What are the wounds of our society we need to touch and heal? Working for justice, struggling against poverty, being a voice for the excluded, welcoming the immigrant – all are part of the Healing work and prayer of the Body of Christ.
WANT TO KNOW MORE? There are a number of parishes in the diocese who hold Healing Services and have small teams trained to offer healing prayer. Many prayer groups also pray healing in this way. If you wish to receive healing prayer or learn more about this ministry, then please contact:
The Bishop’s Committee for Health and Healing (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Clifton Committee for Charismatic Renewal (email: email@example.com)