Sunday 22 July 1990
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
In today's Gospel we hear about two occasions on which Christ healed the sick. And we may ask ourselves, 'Why didn't He heal e v e r y o n e who was in need of healing?'
Because – this is how I read it – because it is not only the healing of the body that was involved in the miraculous act of God; those were healed in their bodies who were ready, mature, to be made whole and not only free from physical illness, who were prepared and capable for being given a wholeness that at the same time made them responsible for the gift of health. The natural life which they have had before was wane; illness was undermining all that nature has given them; the end was death, and here, they met the Living God. The Living God Who had by His word of power, but also by His act of love called them into the existence. And they were prepared, they were inwardly ready to receive a new life. The natural life had come to an end, or was coming to an end, and now, a new life was offered, a life which was a gift of God, and a gift of God that entailed a completely new relationship between them and God, between them and all the surrounding world; a new relationship with themselves, a new attitude to themselves. Those who were healed were prepared to receive new life, for the second time, as it were, to be born by the power of God.
And this is, I believe, it is everyone who longed for physical healing, for a new strength to continue to live according to nature that could be healed. The Lord asks from them two questions; the one which we hear in today's Gospel, and the other one which we hear more than once in other passages. Today we have heard this question, 'Can you believe, d o you believe? Do you believe that My compassion extends to you? Do you believe that I can heal you because you have seen in Me W h o I a m: the Living God become the Living man? Do you believe that you can be made whole, not only temporarily repaired, but given the wholeness of eternal life n o w? If you do, however little – you can I believe, Lord, help my unbelief, my lack of belief!.. And the Lord said, If you can believe h o w e v e r little – it is possible...
And the other question was, 'Do you w a n t to be healed?' It seems to us such a strange question: who doesn't?.. Yes, if it was only a matter of being restored to physical health it would be simple; everyone would say 'yes’. But it is w h o l e n e s s that is at stake; and wholeness means to become a human being in perfect harmony with God, in harmony with one's neighbour, with the created world, restructured inwardly as to be whole.
And this, it is not everyone of us who wishes, because the cost, if we think of it, is great; to accept this wholeness, we must accept a life that would be in the image of the life of Christ: to be among men as He was, with no thought of Himself, ready to accept all humiliation, ready to accept all suffering, all rejection, and humiliate no one, protect oneself against no suffering and reject no one; to receive all brothers without exception as Christ receives us. And who of us can claim that he is worthy of being received, of being recognised by Christ, by God in Him, as His brother or sister?
Let us therefore ask ourselves: Can we answer these two questions? Can I say to the Lord, 'I believe, Lord – help my lack of belief, my inner hesitation born of the experience I have of a broken personality and of a distorted world. H e l p me believe that wholeness and harmony a r e possible!..’
But also, let us ask ourselves whether we are prepared to accept n e w life, wholeness on God's own terms: to remain in this world as Christ lived in it, possessed of sacrificial love, renouncing ourselves, caring only for the other person's salvation, and every other person's life. If we are, then we turn to God and say, I believe, Lord; I open myself to wholeness: I may not achieve it at once, but I will struggle for it, give all m y l i f e for it, and serve everyone possessed of Thine Own sacrificial love. Amen.