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  My Witness

Vol. 5, No. 2, April, 2000

Healing and the Proclamation of Jesus Christ -- Part 1
by Sr. Angeline Bukowiecki, S.N.C.

Sister Angeline What is central to Christianity is Jesus! The basic message of Christianity is that Jesus saves us! What does that mean? How does it affect my life? What does Jesus save us from?

Jesus saves us from personal sin and the effects of original sin which include weakness of will, emotional illness, physical illness and death. The fulness of our freedom will unfold only after the resurrection. But even now the process has begun. As Jesus says in Mark 1:15: "the kingdom of God is at hand."

Jesus frees us from all sickness, therefore, that destroys our person or lessens our life. Jesus frees us from all of this and gives us new life, a new relationship of love and union with his Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Jesus sets us free from any elements of evil that would prevent us from entering into new life with God. Jesus came to do two things for us:

  • First, Jesus came to give us new life by entering into a personal relationship with each one of us that brings new life through the Holy Spirit. "I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10b).

  • Jesus came to heal and free us, to save us from anything in the human personality that needs to be healed, so that this new life in the Holy Spirit may flow freely into us.

This is the amazing message of the Gospel! It is an unbelievable message, and yet, it is true! But we have allowed that message to remain simply a doctrine, a truth to believe intellectually! We do not know how to let the saving power of Jesus' healing love touch our lives. Healing is simply the concrete sign of the Christian message of salvation, the witness that Jesus came to free us from personal sin and from emotional and physical illness. Does that mean that Jesus intends to heal us of these evils right now in this life? Yes! That's exactly what it means. After all, what does the name 'Jesus' really mean? 'Jesus' means 'Yahweh is Salvation'. The name 'Jesus' reveals the purpose for which Jesus came. Jesus is the'anointed one', 'the Christ.' Jesus had come to reveal through his words and especially through his deeds that 'Yahweh, God, is truly Salvation.' That is how Jesus understood his mission. He would spend his time on earth healing, liberating, saving. Who did Jesus heal? Jesus healed those whose spirits were sick and needed deliverance and forgiveness; and those whose bodies were lame, blind and leprous.

The Gospels give us more accounts of Jesus healing those who needed physical healing than they do of him forgiving sins. Every time Jesus met with evil, spiritual or physical, he treated it as an enemy. Each time a sick person came to him in faith, he healed that person.

Jesus came to save persons and not just souls. The Jews never thought of the person as divided into body and soul. That idea was a Greek concept. The Jews, instead, understood the person to be one, a unity, a whole being. Jesus came to heal the whole person which includes the spirit, mind, emotions, and body. He came to relieve the suffering in whatever way they were suffering. Sickness of the body was part of that kingdom of Satan Jesus had come to destroy.

In Luke 4:16-21, Jesus clearly and boldly announces his healing mission:

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, 'Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'"

And how does Jesus respond to the disciples of John the Baptist, when they asked him if he was the Messiah who is to come?

. . . he answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me" (Luke 7:20-23).

The healing actions of Jesus were the sign of salvation taking place! Jesus preached by action! He preached salvation and that salvation, that liberation was actually experienced in the lives of the people Jesus touched. The same must be true for us who evangelize! What we preach is to be actually and personally experienced by those who hear us preach.

Because healing of the whole person -- spirit, mind, emotions and body -- is an essential part of the message of salvation, it is not surprising that Jesus handed on to his disciples the power to heal when he sent them out to preach, to evangelize. That was true both for the 12 Apostles and for the larger group of the seventy? two:

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal (Luke 9:1-2).

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come . . . . "Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you"' (Luke 10:1,8-9).

Jesus simply gave them the power and authority to preach the same message that he had preached. That message of Good News was a dynamic message, not a static one. It contained the very power of God to free men and women from their unhappy state. The preaching and the healing went together.

(If you wish to learn more about healing and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, see the book by Francis MacNutt, Healing.)

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