A few years ago, in a small town in the Cordillera mountain range, we sat at a table having dinner opposite a man with a vision. I was surprised by it and at the same time knew that it would be magnificent.
Earlier that day after Mass the Priest asked people to share any testimonies or insights on the goodness of God and my wife gave witness to a period in our lives where through prayer for healing, both the laying on of hands and prayers over the phone from overseas, I had been healed by God following a rather unpleasant brain haemorrhage I had 9 years ago. I left the hospital without any operation, without medication or any permanent ill effects.
Whenever we go away we always bring blessed oil (a sacramental) and prayer cards from our prayer group for whatever local community we encounter; but this trip was different. The apostolic zeal and intense hunger for God of the town’s folk took our breath away. We were invited to speak at different prayer and church groups, taken out into the hills, to the many dwellings on the rice terraces where the sick were waiting for prayers.
And together with the priest and praying community so many were prayed over: a patient with multiple sclerosis, a stroke patient and finally a lady with gall stones and heart complications who was in such agony when the group arrived. By the next morning the lady we last visited was sat on the porch enjoying the sunshine and praising God, feeling better. Serious illness is a lonely place for patients and their care givers alike, and hearing testimonies of healing and receiving prayers for it injects a ray of hope into the gloom.
As we finished dinner with the Principal of the local High school, he shared his dream of Catholic groups from their community visiting the sick in their homes and hospitals, not only for company or sympathy, but to bring the healing power of God to them. His own experiences with the long illnesses of his wife and children have shown him that it was only the non-Catholic Christian sects who sent people to pray for healing. Surely, as Catholics we must do likewise. Now they will begin.
It was a beautiful thing to see such love in a community for their sick and elderly neighbours as well as this intense desire to serve them and put their faith in the living God. The parishioners have purity of heart and purity of intention; that is a rare sight. Somehow I know God will honour that and we will hear of great miracles in that town. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14)