n June 8th 2014 Pentecost Sunday in a spectacular Service of Ordination and with thankfulness to God I was ordained a Deacon of the Anglican Communion of Canada. What a privilege! While reflecting on this land mark event of my life I could not but remember Moses who at the age of 70 was called through the Burning Bush and hired by God for a specific assignment: to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 3: 9-10). I may not have a Red Sea to part, however as per my pledge at the ordination I am required "to look for Christ in all others being ready to help and serve those in need". In short Hired by God to be a healer.
Mark 6:5 says Jesus laid hands on a few sick people and healed them. Of course we all know that Jesus healed more than a few sick ones. Healing was central to Jesus ministry, a major part of His mandate which He fulfilled. With Jesus, healing was very dramatic and very diverse. Jesus healed all sorts of people, men, women, children, the young the old and lots in between. Jesus cured a variety of diseases, blindness, and paralysis, bent back, fever, epilepsy, leprosy, dumbness, demon possession, flow of blood, and even raised the dead. Jesus methods were unique to Him. He healed mostly out of compassion. In many cases He made the first move without the people asking Him. In some cases those who needed healing called out to Him, at other times some walked up to Him and asked if He was willing to heal them. Jesus would lovingly respond that He was willing and He would heal them. Jesus even healed by proxy, those not physically present. He would just say the word and the people would be healed. At times, Jesus forgave sins before healing. At other times, He demanded faith before healing. Jesus even threw out skeptics and doubters before raising Jairus' daughter. Jesus used unusual items to heal, sputum, clay. Jesus healed anytime of the day, morning, noon, evening and on the Sabbath day. Jesus healed in critical moments, even at the time of His arrest. Jesus stylishly restored Malchius' ear that had been sliced off by Peter in anger. Jesus was always doing something in somebody else's life, always giving and is still giving, never hoarding of Himself.
Jesus healed because He was a problem solver. When Jesus saw problems, He knew where He fitted in and where He could help. When people were physically hungry Jesus fed them. When peoples bodies were riddled with sickness and diseases Jesus healed them. When people are possessed with evil spirits, Jesus delivered them and set them free. When people appeared to be ignorant, Jesus offered them wisdom. When people are burdened with guilt because of their sins, Jesus offered forgiveness. When people are spiritually starved Jesus says I am the Bread of Life. Jesus then called His chosen Twelve and sent them out in twos to continue His work of healing. In Mark 16:15-18 after His resurrection, He gave His final instructions, He said Go into the wide world, preach the Gospel to every creature, baptize people, cast out demons, lay hands on the sick and they would be healed. However these instructions are not only for His disciples, but for all those who would believe in His name. Hence the call to heal is NOT exclusively for the ordained but for all people.
Carrying out Jesus command to heal may not be as dramatic as Jesus' but can take many forms. Any action on our part can be a true expression of Jesus' command to heal. A Samaritan act can not only mend the body, it can repair a broken heart. It can also renew hope in the disenchanted, the skeptical, and the suspicious. A loving gesture can bring peace to the disturbed soul. The skilled intervention of a surgeon can bring healing. The careful management of a sensitive family physician can work miracles. The ordered guidance of a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a counselor can bring relief to the mind. The deliberate humane legislation of law makers, even with its politics, can bring solace to many. The love and patience of committed parents can relieve the stress and strum of the troubled teenager. The strivings of activists for social justice, equal rights for all, peace in a violent world, movements against wars can restore equilibrium to distressed and ailing societies. The sympathetic listening to someone else's private torment can effect relief. A prayer, a smile; a kind thought can bring consolation. Food for the hungry can restore life. These many actions can sooth pain and restore goodwill and health in a desperate world. Jesus has called us all to be healers. We can all be healers. Furthermore we are all urged to encourage others, to go out and fulfill the Jesus vision for the world, "to heal the broken hearted".
How do we respond to Jesus call for us to be a healer? The ultimate goal is to be like Jesus, bringing His healing touch to all peoples, reflecting Him, fulfilling God's will and purpose in our lives and in the lives of others. Everybody at one time or the other needs some healing in one way or the other. We only need to look around to see where healing is needed. What do we have to offer? Empathy, money, friendship, loyalty, protection, love, etc. The choices are numerous. The option is to build our lives around someone else's lives. Our life is that of assignments. It is in them that we know each other. Proverbs 27:23 says be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks and look well to thy herds. A priest/pastor must know his flock. A policeman must know his community very well to be able to protect them. A teacher must know his or her students very well to ensure good interaction and successful learning. A lawyer is assigned to his client, whom he must know very well to be able to defend them effectively. Doctors assigned to their patients, must know them very well for holistic healing to take place. A wife is assigned to her husband and vice versa. Parents are assigned to their children, children to their parents. Secretaries are assigned to their bosses. Moses was assigned to the Israelites. Aaron was assigned to Moses. Paul was assigned to the Gentiles. Jesus was assigned to us all.
What do we need for this assignment? The Bible talks about the gift of the Father for all, the gift offered by the Son for the Church and the gifts of the Holy Spirit for all. We are all endowed with some gifts that will help us to achieve the purpose of the Giver. Everyone has something to offer. We all have something that someone will need and do need. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says we all have treasures in our earthen vessels. Everything and everyone that God created is a solution to a problem? God wanted a love relationship; He created Adam, when Adam was lonely, God created Eve. When both of them did not know what else to do with themselves they figured out how to make babies!!!! Our life is an assignment, a contribution to the life of another person. Our purpose in Christ will not always be limited to our immediate environment. We are more than the church we attend, more than the community that we live in, more than the space where we work. God's purpose has direct correlation to our entire life. After all, the whole world belongs to God, and so every gift that God gave is meant to be a solution to some issue for someone in God's universe.
Furthermore divine healing is taught in the Bible as wrought by the power of God bestowed directly upon the individuals. Spiritual healing power is available and has always been available for all. But the truth remains that the gifts of the Spirit bestowed on the Body for healing are not being utilized to its fullest potential in these times. Religion is competing with rational science. While scientific knowledge in human societies has taken great leaps and bounds, real and true spiritual development continues to lag far behind. The power of God promised in the Gospel is at times misrepresented. Spiritual power is at times not perceived in its right dimension. With the increasing preference of drugs, surgery and high-tech medicine for those who can afford it, the spiritual component of healing is at times pushed back. Yet all religions Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Traditional religions and New Age spiritualities believe in some form of prayer for healing. In churches, mosques, synagogues, healing rooms, temples, coves and shrines, millions of people offer prayers daily for healing for each other. Alternative medicine therapies emphasize healing from a holistic mind, body and spirit perspective. Traditional healers abound everywhere for those who believe in them.
In Christian spirituality, with Luke a follower of Jesus as a physician, Jesus the Great Physician did not undermine the power of science in healing neither did He minimize His own powers to heal. He presented a balance. The problem at times is not even the underutilization and minimal exploration of spiritual healing powers. It is the disenchantment that people have. We also know that spiritual powers have been perverted by quacks and charlatans who deceptively manipulate and exploit innocent and unsuspecting victims, making false promises with the powers that they do not have. Hence Christians are at times reluctant to tap into the supernatural power and abilities promised in the Gospel especially in the area of healing through intentional prayer. It is however heartening to note that prayer for healing is making a medical comeback. An article published in the Church of England's newspaper on August 17, 2010 affirms that Healing Prayer works, confirming the findings of a US study. Another study published in the American medical journal reports that proximal intercessory prayer when one or more people pray for someone in that person's presence with physical contact has been found to have remarkable results in healing the sick. Obviously the waning interest in spiritual healing through prayer is being revived. It is no secret that physicians have always known the importance of encouraging patients to have positive mind about healing. James 5:14-16 instructs suffering men and women what to do in case of sickness: "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick……. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much".
Being a healer for Christ may look daunting. But it is the Lord calling us to a higher calling. The wonderful thing is that when the Lord asks us to do the impossible, he empowers us to achieve it. At times while we are hurting we are asked by the Lord to heal others. It is in healing others that we are healed. This healing work had been predicted by Malachi 4:2, who said, "Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings". Jesus is present in every attempt at healing. His mighty power attends every effort. Matt. 14:14 tells us that Jesus' heals with compassion. The sure thing is that when compassion wells in us with the desire to be Jesus hand extended, the Holy Spirit enables the gifts that had been distributed to us. For all of us who know and believe in our hearts that healing prayer can and does work, let us come along together to be healers for The Great Physician. Let us tap into the power resting on God's assurance that the prayer and effort of faith shall save the sick and heal the broken hearted. Let us pray to always be guided, to have the eyes to see, the sensitivity to feel, the nose to smell, the ears to hear where healing is needed and the strength to go there. Finally as per my ordination prayer may we all be faithful to fulfill Jesus mandate to us, and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit may we be sustained and encouraged to persevere to the end. Amen.