When reading about Jesus’ healing miracles it must be remembered that he lived in a pre-scientific world. Illness was caused by evil spirits, not by bacteria or viruses. Deformity was likewise caused by demons. They had no knowledge of DNA or genetics. That is the world his community lived in. So, healing did not consist in finding the right doctor so much as finding the right exorcist, and there were plenty to choose from. As an exorcist, Jesus drove out demons. That is, he demonstrated that the power of God was greater than the forces that spoil God’s good creation. Now, one day John told Jesus that somebody, not one of their group, was using Jesus’ name in driving out demons from people who were sick. John thought that Jesus should do something to stop this. Maybe take out a court injunction! But Jesus told him that it was OK. This maverick was on their side in combatting evil. This man obviously recognized that the power of God was working through Jesus, and he sought to bring that healing power to people in need. So, we have the memorable line, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” And today we have many people and organizations that are seeking to make this world a better place, agents of God even although they may not know it. The Church cannot claim a monopoly on compassion, nor is the Holy Spirit confined to working through the Church, and we can give thanks for that. However, the Church has an important part to play. As the bearer of the Gospel, it tells the world that God is the source of goodness, healing, and the bringing in of a fairer, more just world. It reminds everyone that it is not by our own human power that we put things right: it is in partnership with God that this is done. Get rid of pride and patronage, it is God who works both through the Church and outside it to give answer to the prayer, “May your will be done of earth as it is in heaven.”
- What are some of the organizations, outside of the Church, that are trying to make this world a better place?
- What forces do you see at work in our society today that are working against God’s intention for our community?
- To what extent can the medical and health professions be seen as agents of God’s healing?
- Why is it important that we see God as the source of goodness, healing and the bringing in of a fairer world and not see it simply as a human initiative?