Homily – February 5

Have you ever had the experience of waiting and waiting for a doctor’s appointment and finally you meet the doctor and it seems like the appointment is over in a flash, you are out of the office in no time. You’re not too happy, you found your appointment unsatisfactory. You feel your doctor should have spent more time with you, asked you more questions about how you felt and how things are with your family, maybe questioned you about stress on your job. But no, he took your blood pressure, checked your heart and lungs, checked you medication. The check up centered on you, you physically but not you as a person, you as an anxious, depressed or stressed person. You feel cheated, resentful that your doctor was too busy to spend a bit more time with you as a person. He’s not a bad doctor, just a very busy doctor, as most are.

I read somewhere that in ancient times physicians never tried to cure someone. If they were dealing with an important person and their efforts to cure failed they could be put to death. They preferred to talk with people about their illness. They spent time listening to their patients fears and concerns. They were called folk healers. In the gospel Jesus is portrayed as a folk healer, one who listened, who touched and cared about the person in front of him. People didn’t just line up in front him to be touched and then go on their way.

Jesus was a spirit-filled prophet and teacher who possessed the power over unclean spirits and a variety of afflictions.

We have no idea of the diseases that afflicted the many men, women and children who came to Jesus for help. We do know there were social consequences to their afflictions. In the act of healing Jesus restores the sick persons to their place in their local community. When he raised the son of the widow of Naim from the dead Jesus gave him back to his mother and their family unit was restored and she was spared the humiliation of depending on relatives for her survival. The same happened when he raised the daughter of Jairus, again the family unit was restored. When he healed lepers they were no longer outcasts. They were able to return to their families and the wider community. The same can be said of the blind and the lame. They were able to return to normal life and were freed from the humiliations of being beggars. Those freed from demons, whatever their demons were, were free to live normal lives and be re-integrated with their families and friends. Jesus’ healing went beyond the person in front of him, its consequences changed to the lives of others as well.

Jesus was a hands on healer. He took the time to get to know people and understand the circumstances of their lives.

Jesus could not stay in Capernaum as Peter urged him to do. He had to go to other towns and villages to preach the good news and bring people to healing and life. What a great way to live life, bringing others to life. That’s how we are to live our lives, being sources of healing, life and love to others. We do this in the simplest of ways.

I want to tell you a story. It was told by a Southern Baptist Minister who was giving a workshop on grieving. He was talking about the healing power of presence. Remember Jesus was always present, always there to the person in front of him.

This is the story of an 8 year old boy whose classmate died.

One day he was late coming home from school. His mother wanted to know why. He told her he dropped in to visit the mother of his dead friend. His surprised mother asked him, “what did you say?” Nothing he replied, “I just sat on her lap and helped her cry.” That must have been a life giving experience for that grieving mother. This young kid knew he didn’t have to say anything; he just had to be there with her.

In one way or another we can all be ‘folk healers’ – we can all be healers and supporters of each often just by being present with and sensitive to the person in front of us.

Someone has said “love – and we could say healing – means being with instead of taking away someone’s trouble.

May we always have the time and the willingness to ‘be with’ those who need our healing presence.