Sunday, June 30, 2024


“Daughter, your faith has saved you!”

Mark 5:21-43

Today we have the cure of a woman with great faith, but in the next chapter of this same 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 robe or tassel that caused the woman’s cure in the gospel today, it was her faith that triggered her cure - an abnormal acceleration of the natural healing processes that God placed in her when she was being formed in the womb. 

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. Today we celebrate this sacrament with those who are seriously ill—physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

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. 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. The process of all healing is a definite, positive mental attitude, an inner attitude or way of thinking, called faith. We often say, "I will believe it when I see it!" Actually, it is the other way around. "Believe it and then you will see it! 








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