Faith in healing and preaching

Why did Jesus come into the world? So that everyone who believes in Him might have eternal life (cf. Jn 3:16). However, His presence in the world manifests His power, life and love in such a way that, left in a wake of goodness, we may be unsure of where to direct our prayers and our faith.

In the Gospel, the apostles ask Jesus to heal the mother-in-law of St. Peter as she suffers from a fever, and He does. Later, at dusk, we hear that "the whole town gathered at (His) door." It is a powerful scene on which to reflect. For hours after darkness has fallen, the people of Capernaum bring their broken family, friends and neighbors to Jesus, and He heals them. At the sight of their lame walking, their possessed freed from the snares of the devil and their ill brought back from the brink of death, the village is filled with joy and astonishment. Their amazement does not dissipate with the dawn. When Jesus goes to a deserted place to pray in the early hours of the day, His apostles interrupt Him. The crowds have formed again in the village. "Everyone is looking for you," the apostles tell Him.

After hearing of how Jesus performed healing miracles late into the night, we might be surprised with Our Savior's response in the morning. Despite their desire to experience His healing power again, Jesus does not go back into the town, but instead tells His apostles that He must move on, for His purpose is to preach the Gospel to all the towns and villages.

At this point, we are left to wrestle with two truths. On one hand, Jesus has the power to free us from any and all suffering that may burden us. On the other hand, that is not His primary mission. He has come to preach the good news about the kingdom of God, the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life .

Yet we can place our faith in both truths. Jesus is the Divine Physician. We should never fear to call upon Him to heal our loved ones and ourselves. With faith in His power and love, we are called to be like the apostles who bring Jesus to Peter's mother-in-law, or like the villagers who flock to Him day and night that He might free them from their suffering. To ignore the healing miracles is to have an incomplete vision of Jesus. We must let our prayers be driven by the love we have for our broken loved ones and faith in the power of God to free us from what burdens us in this world.

In the end, however, some will not be restored to health in this life. Jesus walked away from Capernaum while they still clamored for His healing presence. Yet He departed knowing that He fulfilled His mission of preaching the Gospel. The people were left with a divine promise in which they could place their faith not just in this life, but in the next.

There is nothing in this world that He does not have authority over, so we should never stop begging for His healing power to free us and others from suffering, whether it be physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual. Let us have faith in the power of Our Living God.

To limit our faith to miracles in this life is a mistake, for the mission of Jesus is to bring us to eternal life. While we can ask for miraculous healings in this life, our faith must always remain in the promise of the Gospel - eternal life. Suffering will always remain in this life, but our faith in God's promises allows us to endure it because we know His providence allows it for our salvation. We are not created for this world; we are created for the next. Yes, Jesus dwells among us and still offers His healing power, but His greatest gift to us is freedom from sin and death. While we have faith that He can heal us in this life, we can always believe the good news that we are called to be with Him in heaven.

Fr. Wagner is Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde's secretary.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015