And the people, when they knew,
followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom
of God, and healed them that had need of healing
Another point of view (or two) about
The bible teaches us to have compassion for those who are frail, hurt, bewildered; the sermon on the mount teaches us that the poor in spirit are blessed, that the comforters will be comforted, that we must learn forgiveness and understanding for our own good. Yet there are many who secretly or openly, blame those who are sick, for not getting better, or who think that misfortune in the body is a sign of an ailing soul.
The healing power of Jesus
is there for all to use,
Yet those of us who are handicapped are observably 'differently abled'. The strength of a man who must lift his own body weight by his arms whenever he moves from bed to chair, is more impressive, and perhaps lovelier to look at, than the strength of a muscle bound beach boy. The sight of the partially blind leads them to notice much that we see without seeing, the deaf composer and the cripple know more about sound and movement than you and I can be bothered to learn, and to him who has struggled with temptation is a knowledge of virtue that those of us never know who have never needed to try.
In days gone by people were known to blind their spiritual leaders so that their spiritual sight would not be distracted by the outward eye. Jesus said that those who claimed to be 'able to see' were in a bit of peril, and said often, "let him who has ears to hear, hear" ..
I wonder, is there a sense in which, at least sometimes, the answer to a prayer for healing, lies in being disabled from a more crippling ailment ? An ailment of soul, perhaps ? After all, we have delivered our whole self into his hands for his training, and his purposes, haven't we? But while this is 'all very lovely for us' in its own way - it doesn't begin to touch on why the innocent so often suffer cruelly - or how it is that those who can't offend a God they do not know - might be guilty, or punishable.
One thing is certain in my mind. God does not will suffering, or even like it particularly. Perhaps though, he does offer strategies for using it to full advantage when it does strike us.
After all, the rain falls on the
just and the unjust, suffering on those who have sinned and on those who
are not yet born. So does forgiveness and love, surely.
It is true that sickness is a disorder of the whole person and that the whole person needs to be healed. That is why confession and absolution is part of nearly every healing rite. That is one reason Jesus forgave the paralytic before he healed him. Both acts were vital, powerful and outrageous, the one as difficult as the other. The one act visible, the other invisible - yet both were bondage. To be ill is to have one's whole personality disordered, one's thinking scrambled or non existent and one's ability to pray - let alone to rejoice - severely challenged. So it works both ways. Disorder of the soul can and does disturb our body, grief can cause physical ailment and even death, and while it is true the great, or cardinal sins also do just that, not everything that causes disorder is sinful, is it ?