"Big Four" Highlights


 

Miracles Happen

God still heals and wants to heal more, author says

By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

How many healing miracles of Jesus can you name? To make it easier, let’s put them in categories, with some examples.

Jesus cured the blind (Bartimaeus, who climbed the tree), the lame (the man by the Bethesda pool), the deaf (with the word “Ephphatha”), the dumb (the man with the demon), the possessed (the two Gadarene men), lepers (only one of the 10 returned to give thanks), the dying (the centurion’s servant, healed from afar), and even raised Lazarus from the dead.

This short list is off the top of my head, and these miracles are just from the accounts given in the Gospels. Jesus likely healed many more people than we know about.

His disciples also carried on a healing ministry in his name, mainly casting out demons, and they were amazed at the newly bestowed power. In the Acts of the Apostles, the healings multiply. Peter tells a lame man begging by the temple gate to walk, and he dances around. Peter’s shadow heals those it falls upon and cloths touched to Paul heal the sick (the beginning of the relics of saints).

These extraordinary events happened so regularly, there was an expectation of healing among the new Christians. Yet today, it is safe to say that most Christians have never seen, and rarely expect, a miraculous healing. We have to wonder: Where have all the healings gone?

You may say, with many priests and theologians today, that these and other miracles were proper for their time, when Jesus openly displayed his divinity to prove his mission from the Father. Likewise, the Apostles and disciples had a special dispensation, using signs and wonders to build the new Church in a pagan world. But today, this viewpoint goes, we don’t need miracles in the same way; the Church is established and Jesus chooses to “hide” in the sacraments, working through chosen men acting in persona Christi.

Fair enough, but what of the Great Commission Jesus issued that has always been understood as addressed to all believers, not just the ones who were present for his Ascension?

He said: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick and they will recover” (Mark 16:15-18; with a similar commission in Luke 24:46-48).

That’s a whole lot of healing power given to “believers.” Where do we see such power expressed in the Church today?

This is the question professor Mary Healy asks pointedly in her book Healing: Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World (Our Sunday Visitor). She rejects the easy answer that healing was confined to the early Church, or is given only to a few “healing priests” of our day. She certainly dismisses as dangerous to faith the modern claim that the biblical accounts of healings are simply myths, or misunderstandings of the illnesses such as epilepsy, depression or schizophrenia.

She starts her book with an account of a healing, and explains how she has taken on a healing ministry, with examples of physical healings that have occurred through her. A professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Healy is no fringe Catholic. Her accounts are clear and sober, yet she lights a fire of the Holy Spirit. She has been involved in the Catholic Charismatic movement, where she saw healings of a biblical nature, and she wondered why more Catholics today don’t come to God asking and even expecting such signs and wonders.

The book is a gripping exploration of modern miracles and a convincing testament to Healy’s experience. She does issue a number of caveats though. Healing is from God, not from the person performing the ministry. One who has the gift of healing must remain exceedingly humble, acting as an unworthy instrument of God, a mere reflection of his power. Healy cites the words of Jesus after the 72 disciples returned from their first healing ministry:

“Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

With this warning in mind, read this book with prayer, and listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It may well change your life.

(Next Monday, Dec. 7, FFG will publish an interview with Mary Healy about her book and healing experiences.)