Fr. George Panackal V. C
The glorification of God is are peated theme in theGospel of St. Luke. The very purpose of healing is the glorification of God. This idea is made abundantly clear by Luke while describing the coming of Christ to the Mount of Olives..."as he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the followers began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen" (Lk 19:37).
It is recorded that the people praised and glorified God when Jesus healed the paralyzed man brought on a bed (Lk 5:24-26), when he raised from death the son of the widow of Nain (Lk 7:16), when He cured the stooping woman crippled by a spirit (Lk 13:13-17) and when he restored sight to the blind man (Lk 18:42,43).
Jesus had desired that all those who were healed must praise and glorify God. When only one out the of ten lepers He had cured had come back to express his gratitude, Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" (Lk. 17:17,18).
A primary aim of Jesus in raising Lazarus from death was the glorification of God. When he came to know about the illness of Lazrus, Jesus said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the son of God may be glorified through it" (Jn. 11:140) Lazarus's return to life points to another matter. Jesus is the resurrection and life. But the paramount purpose of the miracles was the glorification of God. In fact there is no contradiction between the two purposes. By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus was proving that he is the resurrection and life, and through that brought about glory to God and the Son of God.
We can see that some objectives marked the miraculous healing acts performed by the apostles. After healing the lame man at the gate of the temple called Beautiful Gate, this is what Peter said, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant" (Acts 4:21).
The reaction of the multitude that witnessed the miracles performed by Jesus was natural . They all praised and glorified the God of Israel. When Jesus wrought the miracle at Cana, changing water into wine, John records that "Jesus did this, the first of his signs", in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him. (Jn. 2:11). All these healing and miracles were performed not just to conform the authenticity of Jesus alone but to glorify God the Father and the son of God.
God's mercy is as important an aspect to be contemplated as His glorification. It was this mercy that caused Jesus to perform many of the healings and other miraculous deeds. In the New Testament, we read many instances of healings, and they happened because of the mercy and pity of God, for the suffering men and women. The pain and suffering which he witnessed while walking on the high ways of Palestine, touched his noble heart. He did not turn away from the lepers with hatred and contempt. He healed them by placing his hands on their open wounds. His heart pained when he saw the funeral procession of the only son of the hapless widow. When people brought to him the blind, the lame and the handicapped, he cured them of their afflictions . What he gave them was not lesson in morals and religions, but healing.
The mercy of Jesus shown towards the sick and suffering had many practical potentialities. Very often our incentive to pray for cures of maladies is simply our desire to witness a supernatural phenomenon taking place. But this is not the reason for the healings we read in the New Testament. It is simply the infinite mercy of Jesus. If we can experience the same sympathy that Jesus had for the afflicted, we too can become the instruments of healing. So to be participants in the healing process we should pray God to give us the same empathy that Jesus had for the sick and suffering.
We are like a baby lying in the womb. The baby in the womb gives a lot of pain and anxiety to its mother. We also give pain to God. We are those that took away the life of His only Son, even then our heavenly Father comforts us in our pains. He doesn't want to lose even "One of these little ones" (Mt. 18:6) Therefore God, in his infinite mercy, takes upon himself our pains and wishes to give us healings. That is why the Hebrites compared the mercy o God to that of the womb.
It is this mercy in Jesus that made Him heal the lepers (Mark 1:41,42), cast away the evil spirit from the boy (Mark 9:22), restored the sight of the blind man (Mt. 20:34) and raised the dead man (Lk. 7:11-17). When Jesus gave bread to four hundred people, as we read in the gospel of Mathew, he was not trying to prove that he is the living bread, but because of his pity for them (Mt 15:32). In the same way he gave sight to the blind man (Mt. 9:27-37,20:29-34), healed the one afflicted by demon (Mt. 15;22-28, 17:14-21), cured the leper (Lk 17:13,14) because he listened mercifully to their prayers for cure. The same infinite mercy of God is exemplified in the healing of the person possessed by demons (Mk. 5:19), as we read in the New Testament.
The New Testament records that faith has a big role to play in the healing process. God responds positively to prayers done with good faith. In this connection, three incidents, from the healings that Jesus performed, need special mention.
Once two blind men came to Jesus hoping to get their sights restored. Jesus asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" (Mt. 9:28). This question of Christ not only reveals the necessity to have faith for healings to take place, but also about the faith itself. If one believes that God can heal, it means that he believes in the ability of God to give him bliss.
In the second instance, a leper came to Jesus and said, "Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean" (Mt. 8:2). He had complete faith in the ability of Jesus to make him clean. But, in spite of his faith, he had added, "if you choose" To effect the healing, God expects from us not only our psychological belief that he can do it, but also in His benevolence to effect such healings. It is a knowledge and understanding that God loves his children and he will give them the necessary healings when they are in need of them.
In chapter 9 of the Gospel of Mark, there is the story of epileptic boy who gets cured and this shows us another aspect of faith. The father of the afflicted boy took him to the disciples of Jesus. But they could not heal the boy. This must have adversely affected the faith of the father. However he went to Jesus and told him, "If you are able to do anything , have pity on us and help us. "This is what Jesus replied, "If you are able; All things can be done for the one who believes" (Mk 9:22,23) Jesus had always taught this principle. Jesus had not set a limit to what we can request from God. Why should there be a limit for God's powers?
So, in our faith, there are three things that we should note:
1. When we believe in the ability of Jesus to give us healings, we are also to believe that he can give us the bliss of joy and happiness.
2. We don't have to look at the ability of Jesus to heal, through strict psychological and scientific perspectives. Even in unexpected circumstances he can give healings.
3. For God, the degree of faith is immaterial when he works for his children "All things can be done for the one who believes". Thus we can see that the healings of God are rooted in the glorification of Himself and his Son, in the infinite mercy He feels for the suffering, and in our earnest and living faith. So our desire to heal and bless is an integral part of the nature of God.
The Holy Writs however, point out some other reasons as well for the healings. One of them is repentance and the readying of the path for the spreading of the Gospel. God removes the impediments and obstacles on the path of preaching the Gospel by healing. To know God and his kingdom from close quarters, He gives miraculous cures for diseases. They also indicate that God's kingdom is near at hand. He heals us, paying heed to our supplications He also heals for reasons only known and revealed to Him, in His infinite wisdom.
All these are part of the nature of God and His limitless objectives. Amongst the early chosen people, he had performed miraculous healings and even now they continue. Each of the facts related to healings recorded in the Holy writs is most valuable even today. If Jesus and his disciples performed healings among people of those days, even now this process is continuing. When we pray sincerely and earnestly for the sick and the suffering, we can still witness miraculous healings taking place in our midst through the mercy of our great Lord.