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A faith that heals, a journey toward redemption

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Kobe Bryant's sudden death is the highlight of the recent news. Kobe was known for many things — he was a talented NBA superstar, a coach, a husband, a father and a friend. As with most celebrities, he was not exempt from his share of indiscretions. What made him different was his decision to change. I didn't follow the star that closely despite being born and raised in Southern California. Yet I was happily surprised to learn more about his faith life. The news reported how talking to a Catholic priest changed his life. A childhood friend mentioned on a recent Facebook post that she saw him and his family at Mass. Kobe reminds me that faith has the power to heal and make you stronger. 

Most of the time, there is a general aversion to sickness, pain and suffering. Often suffering can be thought of as mental or physical, but sometimes suffering can be caused by situations and emotional pain inflicted by ourselves or others. Christ wants to heal us of our pain and suffering. 

Jesus heals all the ailments in the crowd in Matthew's Gospel (4:23). "He went about preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people ... they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniac, epileptics and paralytic, and he healed them." 

In Jesus’ healing of the paralytic, the forgiveness of sins leads to bodily healing. Jesus said to the paralytic, “Rise, take up your bed and go home” (Mt 9:2-7).

Lastly, Jesus healed the Canaanite woman’s daughter, because of her great faith in him. "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you desire," (Mt 15:28).

For Christ, healing takes place through faith, belief in the Son of God and turning away from sin. Most people who encounter Christ are transformed. Some changes are instantaneous, others happen gradually. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, "Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing" (1506).

Kobe is an example of taking up his cross and following in the footsteps of Christ. He may not have succeeded every day, but he was committed to the daily struggle. He is an example of a faith that heals. 

What can you do if you are suffering or at a crossroads?

1) Be open to being healed and pray for healing.

2) If you feel your faith is weak, repeat alongside the centurion, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief" (Mk 9:24).

3) Talk to your priest about how to avoid sin and grow in relationship with Christ through prayer. 

4) Get anointed if you need physical healing. (What is the anointing of the sick, and when should one ask? Go to usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/anointing-of-the-sick/index.cfm)

5) Go to confession.

6) Go to Sunday Mass. Attend weekday Mass if you can. 

7) Read the Scriptures to see how Christ handled suffering and read books on how the saints dealt with suffering. 

8) Try a small group.

9) Keep trying. Persevere. God wants us to succeed, he will help.

We are pilgrims on a journey. We do not know the day or hour we will be called to meet the Lord. So let us not walk alone but together. Let those who go before us be an example of how faith can heal and lead us closer to Christ.

Piñon is the director of faith formation and evangelization programs for diocesan Office of Faith Formation.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020