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  My Witness

Vol. 6, No. 1, January, 2001

Healing and the Proclamation of Jesus Christ -- Part 2
by Sr. Angeline Bukowiecki, S.N.C.

Sister Angeline The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all bring out the fact that Jesus equipped his disciples with the power to preach and to heal (Luke 9:1-2; 10:1, 8-9; Matthew 10:1, 5-8; Mark 6:7-13). The early Christians -- not only Peter and Paul -- but Barnabas, Agabus, Ananias, Philip, Stephen, Silas and all the other early Christians were sent out to preach the Gospel and to heal. The early Church, the early Christians, had the same power to preach, to heal, and to cast out demons that Jesus had. That is what Church is all about. To be Church is to be the concrete, visible presence of Jesus in our world preaching the Good News of God's love for each person and healing the sick -- which shows just how much God loves each one of us. We are the continuing presence of Jesus in our world -- his eyes, ears, voice, hands, and feet. We are the continuation of Jesus' saving power in our world. We are the continuation of Jesus' healing power in our world.

The Jerusalem Church, represented by Peter and the Gentile Church, represented by Paul, all carried out the same preaching and healing that Jesus did. They were able to do that because Jesus was the One doing it in them. Jesus is multiplied in them who are his witnesses to the ends of the world. And this is still true for each one of us today.

Preaching and healing were put together by Jesus -- like two sides of the same coin. And the early Christians carried on that tradition. When the early Christians came under persecution, what did they do? In the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 4, verses 29-30, we are told that they prayed to be able to preach by healing:

And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.

The message of salvation was preached by continuing the works that Jesus did. The same Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus, continued to empower the early Church and continues to empower us, the 20th century Church! The healings that characterized the early Church are meant to characterize us today! We are the continuation of Jesus' saving power at work in our day. There are broken persons all around us, persons in the pews of our own parishes who are in need of the healing, liberating love of Jesus.

The end of Mark's Gospel points out very vividly for us that all believers share in the mission of Jesus Christ. In chapter 16, verses 17-18 of Mark's Gospel, we read

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation . . . And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."

You and I are called to carry on the same mission that Jesus carried out. We are called to evangelize, which means preaching the Good News of Jesus and healing the sick. In the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10, verse 38, Peter describes in a nutshell the public ministry of Jesus. He says:

"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power; . . . he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."

Notice, Peter emphasizes what Jesus did rather than what he said, because what Jesus did was the message of the Gospel. Think for a moment what it would mean if each one of us could honestly apply that verse to ourselves:

"God has anointed me with his Holy Spirit and with power, and because God is with me, I go around doing good and healing all that are oppressed by the devil."

And would it not be wonderful if the entire Church could respond to those who ask for her credentials:

"Go and tell others 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."

Our God is a God of love! He loves each one of us in a unique and profound way! And He says to each one of you:

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you" (Jeremiah 31:3).

"Fear not . . . I have called you by name, you are mine . . . you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you" (Isaiah 43:1-5).

God has revealed himself as being on the side of life; of wholeness; of health in spirit, mind, emotions, and body. In general, it is God's desire that we be healthy rather than sick. God will respond to prayer for healing, unless there is some obstacle, or, unless the sickness is sent or permitted for some greater reason. Sickness is an evil in itself, although good may result from it. Sickness is not ordinarily directly willed by God. Because it is the result of original sin, sickness is permitted.

(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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