Jesus Christ, a Companion in Illness
Christians turn to Jesus Christ who, the gospels report, healed sufferings of every kind. "And wherever he went- into villages, towns or countryside - they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed." ( Mk 6, 56 )
How Jesus curedMost of Jesus' healings were instant. Sometimes it was just by a word, but more often a gesture was part of the cure. He laid his hands gently on people. He touched Peter's mother-in-law's fevered hand ( Mt 8,15); he put his finger in the deaf man's ear ( Mk 7,33 ); he touched the blind man's eyes. ( Mt 21,34 ) Sometimes the cure did not come all at once. Mark's gospel, reporting a blind man's cure, says that Jesus had to touch him twice before he could see clearly. ( Mk 8,22) Clearly, Jesus preferred to cure by coming close to people, even those, like lepers, whom others tried to avoid.
Go in peace
Why did Jesus heal? Because he wanted to take away the powerlessness brought by sickness. He saw the fear, the self-absorption, the loss of hope, the questioning of God that were its consequences. They brought a touch of death to people's lives. And he came to bring life. He healed for the advantage of others, for their peace, not for his own. And so, as the accounts of his cures make clear, Jesus never saw healing complete until those suffering were restored to the homes and families they knew before.
A cause for rejoicing
People of Jesus' day saw his healing power as a sign that God was visiting his people, and they rejoiced. Christians today believe the Risen Christ still heals and blesses our world. Once he instructed his own disciples to heal the sick in his name, "So they went out...and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them." (Mk 6,12-13) Now the ministry of healing is given to every Christian and is a mark of the church. How is it accomplished today? In many different ways.
· By prayer and the celebration of sacraments.
· By caring for the sick as Jesus taught: "I was sick and you visited me."
· By supporting all human efforts of medical and social research to conquer disease of every kind.