Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I am Sick, Lord
by Fr. Jack McArdle
Lord Jesus, one of the things that always amazes me is how so many of the sick, in the Gospel stories, actually believed that you could, and would heal them. I know they may have heard of others being healed, and they may have actually seen others being healed, but the certainty of their conviction always amazes me. Since that time, two thousand years later, we have been anointed with your Spirit, we are part of your Body, we are members of a believing community, and we have had two thousand years to reflect on your words. Surely we, of all people, should live with the faith of conviction, with the expectation and the reality of miracles!
I realize that, in the Gospel, you yourself had not yet carried your cross, you had not died, you had not yet returned in triumphant glory to your Father. As you said "When the bridegroom is present, you are not asked to fast; but when the bridegroom is taken away from you, then you shall fast". I take this to mean that, when you have carried your cross, when your work is completed, when we have received the Spirit, when we answer the call to follow you, then, we, too, must take up our own cross, and walk in your Way. I accept that this is a call to suffering ; not involving any great heavy cross, but the splinters of daily Christian living. I know, and I accept that some of what we have to suffer is for our good, and that we are purified, and brought closer to you, through it. I look upon this as a vocation, as a calling, and I have known of people whose whole life was a call to suffering. That, however, would seem to be a special calling to special people, and, with the call comes the grace to live in that way. All of us, at some time or another, are called to put our shoulder to the cross, and the proof that such is the case is the evidence of the good that results from such suffering.
Why I come before you now is to ask your healing for sickness, for something that seems to produce no good results; something that burdens my life, and, indirectly, is affecting those who love me, and those whom I love. I come to you, Lord, because, with all the best medical attention in the world, you are the only one who can make me well again. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief. Lord, increase my faith. Lord, I know that you can heal me. Of that I am certain. I also know that, beyond your great love, I have no claim on your healing. I stand before you, open out my heart, and let you see each and everything within me, body, mind, heart, and soul. I am sure you see many areas there in need of healing. I'm sure you see healing needed where I don't suspect any lack of health, either physical, mental, or spiritual. Lord, please, for what you see in me that is not of you and from you, and that is not for my good, I ask you to touch that now, to heal it, remove it, and fill that space with new health and life. Say but the word, Lord, and I shall be healed.
Lord Jesus, I bow my head before you, and I reach out both hands towards you. Place your healing hand upon me, and proclaim your power and victory over anything that would take from my well-being. I fully accept that we must all, one day, die. I also accept and appreciate the gift of life, and would really love to live a full, fruitful and abundant life. I ask for your healing, because to whom else can I go? You, and you alone, have the power over life, health, and death. I open the door of my heart, and, as with Peter's mother-in-law, Jairus, Zacchaeus, and many others, I invite you to enter with your healing and restoring touch. Lay your hands gently upon me, O Lord; let them bring your forgiveness and healing. I claim the power of your victory, your Blood, and your name, and I cry out to you, Lord. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me! Lord, if you will, you can make me whole. Lord, I am not worthy; say but the word, and I shall be healed.
I trust your Spirit within me to give life to my words, to turn my words into prayer. I know that a cry from my heart will always reach your heart. I often feel so weak, so inadequate, and this creates its own confusion. I hesitate to ask, because I don't want to ask for anything that is not for my good, or for something that is not your will for me. The only way I can manage that, Lord, is to come right out and ask, and leave the answer to you. I believe that you always answer prayers, and that, sometimes, the answer is NO. That is why I dare to keep on asking, because there is nothing else I can do. I cannot trust myself to judge what is best for me, or what your will for me is. I have to continue to trust you, to ask you, to turn to you, because you are the source of all that is healthy in me, and I know that you take me seriously. I believe that you have my best welfare at heart, that you understand exactly how I feel, how I fear, and how I falter. I don't find it easy to be brave, and not to be in control. I may pretend with others that all is well, but you know me through and through, and you know exactly how I feel inside. You know my prayer even before I say it. You know my doubts, my anxieties, and my worries, even when I try to convince myself that I trust you. I sometimes get confused over faith, as if it were a question of me having faith in my own faith. Some sort of white-knuckle, gritted teeth, clenched fist type of prayer, as if I could force you to change your mind, and do things my way! I'm sorry for the times when I do that, and I know you understand. The healing has nothing to do with me beyond the two basic facts : I am sick, and I am asking you to heal me. I totally rely on your Spirit to inspire and infuse my words, and to turn them into prayer. I also ask for the grace of being able to leave this prayer with you, and get on with life. I think of the ten lepers who left, and were healed as they went along. I think of the centurion who took your word for it, and returned to find his servant healed.
Lord, please come with me now, and travel with me on the road of faith. Keep me close to you, Lord, and stay close to me. Lift me when I falter, and like Peter walking on the water, be there, please, to reach out a hand to hold me up, when I feel that I'm going under. If you travel with me, Lord, it must surely lead to health, and to life.
My dear, dear child, I hear your cry, and I know your fears and your tears. Thank you for coming to me with your cares and worries. Come to me when you are struggling, or heavily burdened, and I will give you rest, and you will find peace for your soul. I know how difficult it can be to really trust another. I trusted the Apostles, and, when the crunch came, they deserted me. With me, however, it is so much more different. All I ask for is faith. Nothing more, nothing less. "The sin of this world is unbelief in me. When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on this earth?" Faith is much simpler than you think. It is a direct response to love. In other words, it is the trust you place in someone who loves you. If you believe that I love you, then you should have little trouble in trusting me. In this is love, not that you love me, but that I have first loved you. That was the whole purpose in my coming on earth. The only response I ask is that you trust me. I want you to ask me, and I have declared for all the world to hear : "Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened to you". In the Gospel stories, it is not that I went around healing anybody. Rather was it a case that I went around, with the power to heal, and I left it totally to the blind, the lame, the deaf, the dumb, or the leper to stop me, and ask for healing. All I looked for from them was that they believed that I could cure them. Having that faith within themselves was the foundation of their healing. If that were missing, my power could not work in them, because such would be to intrude on them, to trespass on their privacy, and freedom to choose not to be healed. That is why I asked the man at the well "Do you want to be healed?" Up to that point he hadn't asked me, and I needed to hear him express his prayer.
Prayer is when you spend time with me, when you give me time and space in your life. It is a time of friendship, when a relationship is built. Communication is two-way or no-way. It is important that you speak, but it is also important that you listen. I want to know your every concern, your every worry, your every fear. I like when you trust me enough to turn to me. Being in my presence, being present to me, is, in itself, healing. I want you to be healthy. I want you to be well. I don't want anything bad happen to you. I only want what is best for you. You are my friend, and you did not choose me, but I have chosen you, and I have appointed you to bear fruit, fruit that will remain. No one wants fruit that is unhealthy, or not life-giving. I want the long-term good for you, and, sometimes, this may mean a time of testing, and a time of growing. I will certainly heal you, but I cannot promise that I will always cure you. Healing is something that happens inside, and it moves out from there. "Your sins are forgiven, arise and walk". You must let me enter into the very core of your being, to every area within you in need of healing. When you look at yourself, or think about yourself, you are aware of things in you that need healing. When I look at you I can see areas in need of healing that you don't even suspect. I take your view-point seriously, and I do not at all say that you're wrong. All I'm saying is that I want to broaden the scope of your healing. I want it to work from the inside out. It may surprise you, but the body is the simplest and easiest part to heal! It is much more difficult to heal the inner hurts, the resentments, the unforgiveness, and the guilt. Quite often this is what has contributed to what is wrong with the body. When you have a resentment against somebody, it is as if you were drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die! In other words, you are the one who is being damaged by the resentment. Don't always imagine that the guilt you feel is coming from me! I came to save, not to condemn. If you were to take an inventory of your inner self at this very moment; if you were to spread that out before me; and if we both went through it together, we might find something like the following : regrets, hindsights, resentments, jealousies, angers, unforgiveness, pride, lust, dishonesty, pretense, etc., etc. and etc. You see what I mean when I speak of healing beginning from the inside?
Of this you can be certain : I definitely want to be involved in your healing, because that is central to your redemption. It involves redeeming you from bondages, freeing you from slaveries, releasing you from inner darkness. I want to proclaim my victory within your spirit, to set up my Kingdom there, and to ensure that you live with a life that is really abundant. This inner healing is the greatest miracle of all, and, when it happens, we see our bodily ailments in a totally different light. Continue to spend time with me, continue to sit in my presence. This can happen in a room, in a field, or in a car. I am always there when you turn to me. Because of your physical problems, you may have to involve yourself a great deal with doctors, surgery, or medication. All of these things can be good, and can directly effect your health and well-being. Doctors, by their calling, are involved in the healing ministry. Throughout all of this part of your care, however, I want you to remember that I am here in your heart, that I am with you, and that I will never ever abandon you, or leave you on your own. Make sure that prayer is your constant medication, which never changes, even when the doctors change the tablets. Pray for the doctors, so that my Spirit may guide them in their diagnosis. When I ask you to continually pray, I am not implying that you should always be saying prayers. All I ask is that you try to be continually conscious of my presence with you, and within you. You are not alone. I want to travel this journey with you. When you read the Gospels you see how I was there, ready to help, when the people were hungry, when the boat was being tossed about in the storm, when they ran out of wine at Cana.
Thank you for sharing your present situation with me. Thank you for letting me enter into your worries and concerns. Thank you for turning to me, and accepting me as a friend who loves you so much that you are always in my thoughts. When I say that I want to walk this journey with you, I mean that I want you to leave the past to my mercy, the future to my providence, and the present to my love and healing. I am fully present to you now, just as you are, at this very moment. I am the Good Shepherd, and I am concerned when one of the sheep gets tangled in the briars, or falls down a ravine. It is my role to rescue, to save, to come to the aid of the one who cries out to me.