Sunday, July 1, 2018

FAITH HEALING



  
Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Mark 5:21-43

There are a few old books on my shelf that I cannot get rid of, no matter what! They were the sources of great breakthroughs in understanding. Such is the case of Fr. Louis Evely’s insight on faith healing.

Father Evely makes the case that the phenomenon known as a “healing miracle” is simply an abnormal acceleration of natural healing processes that are triggered by faith. A “miracle” he says, does not occur from the outside in, but from the inside out. Christ did not tell those he cured, “My power has cured you.” Instead, he said, “Your faith has cured you.”  Today we have the cure of a woman with great faith, but in the next chapter of this gospel, Mark reports that Jesus could work no miracle there because of people’s lack of faith.”  Still later Mark says that people were begging to brought to the marketplaces so that they might touch the tassel of his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed. It was not a holy tassel that caused the woman’s cure in the gospel today, it was her faith that triggered her cure! Her faith triggered an acceleration of natural healing processes.

What about the miracles that have been recorded at places like Lourdes? Well, there have been miracles at every shrine of every religion, and most of these have been miracles of healing. Father Evely notes that the sole characteristic of a miraculous cure is the extraordinary acceleration of the natural healing process. That which cannot be healed by a natural process is not susceptible to a miraculous cure; an amputated leg or am, for example, has never been re-grown miraculously – not even a finger. So, it seems that such acceleration of the natural processes of healing can be triggered by faith. It’s not the sacred stone, the holy relic, the water from a mysterious water source or even the tassel of a Jesus’ cloak that causes the healing, but the intensity of faith of those who believe that triggers their extraordinarily rapid healing processes.

I believe in the possibility of faith healing us physically. When I was in the Home Missions, I anointed an old German man who had a deep, but simple faith. He had an ulcer on his hand that had not healed for years. He wanted it to be anointed, believing that God could heal it for him. I accommodated him without much hope, but guess what? He came back a few weeks later and, sure enough, his ulcer was gone!

When my mother was dying of cancer, we gathered in the living room for a celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick. We anointed her, with prayers that she would be healed. She was not healed physically, but she certainly was healed spiritually. After that anointing, she accepted her condition with an amazing peace and calm from that day forward.  
  
Even doctors will tell you that people have mysteriously gotten well when they are able to believe that getting well is possible, while they have mysteriously lost patients who gave up on their treatment.

The Church has anointed the sick since the very beginning, but it has gone through a great transformation in our lifetime. The oldest written gospel, Mark’s, records these words: “They expelled many demons, anointed the sick with oil, and worked many cures” (Mark 6:13). These original disciples passed this practice on to their followers. We read about it in the Epistle of James: “Is there anyone sick among you? He should ask for the presbyters (priests) of the church. They in turn are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name (of the Lord). This prayer uttered in faith will reclaim the one who is ill, and the Lord will restore him to health” (James 5:14-15).

The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick began its demise in the twelfth century when it started being called Extreme Unction or Last Rites. It began its comeback in 1974 when we began to call it again by its correct name, Anointing of the Sick. For the past eight hundred years, it was given almost exclusively to those whose death was imminent. The person receiving it was often unconscious. Today we celebrate this sacrament with those who are seriously ill—physically, emotionally, or spiritually. (Let me insert this admonition. For God’s sake don’t wait till someone is minutes away from death and then try to find a priest, unless there is a serious accident! Worse still, don’t wait till they are dead and then call a priest for this Sacrament! “My mother just died, will you come and give her the Last Rites?” Call the priest when they are still conscious if possible! Call at the beginning of their serious illness! Call it by its real name, Anointing of the Sick, not Last Rites!)

There is no question about it: Jesus was a faith healer. The gospels are filled with stories of cures he brought about. There is no question either that Jesus gave his disciples a share in this power and told them to use it. The oldest written gospel, Mark’s, records these words: “They expelled many demons, anointed the sick with oil, and worked many cures” (Mark 6:13).

Down through the ages, people of every culture have believed, almost instinctively, that somewhere there resides a healing power that can be activated under certain conditions and that the alleviation of human suffering will follow. The power to evoke this healing is usually attributed to holy men and women, who evoke it directly from God through various ceremonies, such as the laying on of hands, anointings, prayers, or the touching of relics and images. Even modern science has admitted that these healers have often obtained dramatic results where medical skill has failed.

How does healing work? How do these healers effect their cures? In a nutshell, their cures are due to the belief of the sick person that releases the healing power already resident in the subconscious mind. The belief of the sick person, encouraged by the “healer,” triggers an abnormal acceleration of a natural, God-given, healing power we all carry within us. The healer elicits belief from the sick person. That belief triggers healing power. Health is the result. This healing power was given to us when God created us. In that sense, God is the source of all healing.

In the New Testament, we read about Jesus the healer. He used touch, spit, water, and words, but he always insisted upon faith. “Because of your faith it shall be done to you,” he told the sick (Matthew 9:29). Jesus evoked faith inside the sick. That faith triggered healing. Health was the result. Jesus, the person cured, and the people all around gave God the praise.

The process of all healing is a definite, positive mental attitude, an inner attitude or way of thinking, called faith. If you have this faith, you will get results. The problem is getting past the skeptical conscious mind and into the subconscious mind, where all healing takes place. The subconscious mind is very impressionable to the power of suggestion, but the conscious mind is constantly sabotaging the process with negative messages of “can’t happen.” Faith is an intense, positive, “can happen” suggestion to this impressionable part of our brain where all healing takes place. It is this part of the brain that knows what to do to repair or heal a cut without the conscious mind’s even having to be aware of it.

If you have a physical ailment and you can muster the faith, the Sacrament of Anointing is for you. Your faith and our prayers, the blessed oil, and the laying on of hands can bring about physical healing. If you are carrying around an old grudge that is making you sick and keeping you from enjoying life, anointing is for you. But you must believe that you can let go of that grudge completely. Your belief and our prayers, the blessed oil, and the laying on of hands can bring about spiritual healing. If you feel spiritually sick, without a personal, loving contact with God, anointing is for you. But you must want a new relationship and believe that you can have one. Your faith in having such a relationship, our prayers, the blessed oil, and the laying on of hands can bring about a melting of all the resistance you have carried to such a relationship.

Faith is more powerful than you know! It can trigger healing of the body, mind and spirit! We often say, "I will believe it when I see it!" Actually, it is the other way around. "When you believe it,  then you will see it! 






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