Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"This Love, This Power to Heal:" On the Feast of St. Luke the Physician

It has been said that the authentic Church is known by its capacity to make saints. This is deeply true: holiness in the lives of people is a direct fruit of encounter with God the Holy Trinity. And this holiness always results in something; it is never a static condition, bottled up in itself. The holiness of God when encountered inevitably becomes an opportunity for healing on all levels of our being. For some, this includes sudden, miraculous bodily healing—events so shaking in their power that we do not speak of them easily. For others this healing overcomes memories, childhood trauma, or the effects of years of self-destructive addictions or patterns of life. Yet always this healing is the result of a call to the wholeness and holiness made available through the life and embrace of the True Physician of our souls: Jesus the Christ.

Healing is a by-product of Love. The power to heal in the authentic Church—something we must look for in our parishes, our dioceses, our bible studies, or wherever we gather as Church—is never an end in itself. It always looks forward, stretched out to the love of God, who is the author of life, health, and love itself. Jesus Christ embodies that Love, and communion with him means an unrelenting call to healing.

Make no mistake: though free to us, this gift of healing cost God everything; it can never make peace with sickness or death; all that is not love, all that is not life in its fullness, all that is not well in us, is illuminated by Love and must be let go. Much of the Christian road of discipleship is about this.

Our final healing can never be in this life. All therapies and programs for health making such promises are frauds and delusions. This world is radically and fundamentally unable to fulfill this promise. This has become the source of much misery in our day, as the capacity to extend life is confused with the ability to give life in all that means. Though a physician, St. Luke never confused these two things, and we must not, either. The fulfillment of our desire for healing can only come when God is “all in all,” in the Kingdom of Love and Knowledge, of which life in the Church is and must be the portal.

The Church holds “this love and this power to heal” that makes humans fully free. Tempted as it is to trade that gift for the power to control, punish, or indulge our unworthy drives, the true Church will ultimately always choose to live in the love and healing of Christ, and to share that love and healing with anyone who seeks it.

Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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