In the gospel reading at Sunday Mass on February 14th, a leper came to Jesus, kneeled down before Him and begged, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Jesus was moved with pity, and stretched out his hand to touch the leper. He said, “I do will it. Be made clean.”
Scripture says, “The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.”
Nowadays leprosy is very rare, as are many other diseases that once struck terror into people’s hearts. We take our health problems to medical doctors, who, all in all, do a tremendous job of curing our afflictions and illnesses. The advances in science and medicine in just the last 75 years are breath-taking compared to the previous 5,000 years of recorded history.
The vast majority of the population today would never think of bringing their physical problems to Jesus, figuring that a doctor would be much more effective. On the one hand, this makes sense. I mean, if I accidentally cut my hand with a power saw, I would head straight for the emergency room rather than my parish rectory. (Besides, my pastor would be upset if I gushed blood all over the carpeting.) In this case, I’m sure it would be God’s will that I seek out a doctor rather than have someone pray over my bleeding hand.
I don’t remember the exact details, but many years ago a family in Massachusetts refused to bring their sick child to a doctor, convinced that prayer alone could cure him. A bowel obstruction, which could have been fixed easily by surgery, ended up killing the youngster. There’s no way this course of action was God’s will. These folks, in my view, were very foolish.
On the other hand, many people today assume that physical healings via spiritual means are impossible. We think that God is either not capable or not interested, even to the point of thinking that the miracles described in Scripture are fables made up years after the fact.
This, too, is a foolish point of view. God is the master physician. He created us; He certainly is capable of curing us. The spiritual gift of healing did not die out with the first century believers. There is far too much evidence, there are far too many first-person accounts, simply to dismiss the power of prayer. People have been miraculously cured through healing Masses and other prayerful methods.
Although medical science has made remarkable advances — our life expectancy keeps rising despite the fact we work overtime to ruin our health (“Hey honey, I’m running out to the store to buy some Slim Jims and cigarettes, you need anything?”) — there are a couple of diseases doctors have been unable to cure. Medical science is powerless to address the problems of sin and death.
Oh sure, we try to deal with these ailments. We pretend there is no such thing as sin, and we completely ignore death. But refusing to face these problems does not make them go away.
Sin is like spiritual cancer. If left unchecked, it eats away at our soul until we are no longer recognizable. And death, of course, is always lurking out there, waiting to snatch each and every last one of us away from this life.
The only physician who can heal us of these deadly diseases is Dr. Jesus. Only he has the power to truly forgive our sins and make us clean. Only Jesus can offer us the gift of eternal life so that when our time in this world is through, our souls can live with Him forever in Heaven.
So, whenever you have a health problem, by all means go to a doctor. It’s God’s will that we use our collective knowledge and wisdom and science to make our lives better here on earth. But don’t neglect prayer. God does have the power to work miracles. And certainly don’t neglect our two most chronic ailments: sin and death. Make an appointment with Dr. Jesus right now. He has the cure.