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April 28th, 2014

The Stolen Miracle

The Stolen Miracle

If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed (Mark 5:28). That’s what she told herself, this nameless, bleeding woman who’d traveled 30 miles, fueled by nothing but faith.

It was a daring plan. According to Mosaic Law, women who were ceremonially unclean weren’t allowed to touch anyone, let alone the Son of God. But desperate women do desperate things. For 12 long years blood had flowed from her body, making her physically sick and socially unacceptable.

Desperation and Determination

The physicians of her time were unable to relieve her suffering. She “spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mark 5:26). Some of us have been there, dealing with a prolonged illness or stubborn medical condition. It’s frustrating, even embarrassing, to keep going to the doctor, only to return home with an expensive prescription, yet little hope.

The true miracle in this story is what remained healthy: her faith. Her willingness to believe she could be well again, despite all evidence to the contrary. When she heard about a man who’d “healed many who had various diseases” (Mark 1:34), she made a beeline for Capernaum.

After a 30-mile journey, I would have thrown myself in his path, begging him to help me. Instead our bleeding sister quietly “came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak” (Mark 5:27). By law, her touch would have made him unclean. By grace, just the opposite happened. “Immediately her bleeding stopped” (Mark 5:29). Without a word, a look, or a touch from Jesus, she was made whole simply by believing he could heal her—and daring to act on that belief.

A Stolen Miracle

When her faith was rewarded, she wasn’t the only one who noticed. “He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?'” (Mark 5:30). How her heart must have pounded. She’d just stolen a miracle!

When the disciples pointed out that many in the crowded street were touching him, “Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it” (Mark 5:32). He wasn’t looking to accuse but to affirm.

The same faith that empowered her to stretch out her hand now gave her the strength to step forward. She “fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33). She risked everything—public humiliation, if not punishment—to make her confession of faith, explaining to the crowd “why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed” (Luke 8:47).

Restored

With a single word from Jesus, 12 years of pain and isolation were swept away: “Daughter…” (Mark 5:34). In no other gospel account does Jesus use this term of endearment and respect. Daughter. She was a member of the family now, restored to her community, setting an example for others who “begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed” (Mark 6:56).

This woman literally put feet to her faith: traveling to Capernaum, reaching out to touch Jesus’ garment, and walking forward at his invitation. By faith, we too can go first in our families, in our workplaces, and in our circles of influence, stepping forward to proclaim, “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.”

– – – written by Liz Curtis Higgs

December 18th, 2012

The Healing Power of Confession

The healing power of confession

I was surprised to see this couple, the leaders of a large prayer group in the Archdiocese of Bombay, who had been knocking at my door early that morning at the retreat house in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai. On my blank refusal to leave my 200 retreatants and accompany them to the hospital, they began to plead their case.

Their son Joseph was sick and had been undergoing medical treatment at home. But after two weeks of medication he was not getting any better. Their family doctor finally acknowledged that he could do nothing more. He was not even able to diagnose the precise nature of his sickness, which baffled him. He recommended him to be admitted to this renowned hospital, where he would be under the care of the topmost specialists of the city. But here too, after he had gone through every diagnostic testing and been administered all kinds of medicine for a further two weeks, those eminent doctors owned up that they too could do nothing more. They too were unable to diagnose the young man’s illness and hence did not know how to treat him.

After coming to know all this, Joseph felt so disheartened and dejected that he told his parents, “I must see Fr. Rufus today.” I made it clear to them, when they approached me, that I could not absent myself from the retreat even for a short time. But they kept coming back again and again, saying that their son would not take no for an answer, and pleading that I come to the hospital – however late the hour.

I finally consented to come at the end of the day’s program, at about 10.30 pm. Seeing him in the ICU (intensive care unit) surrounded by all those sophisticated medical apparatus, I deduced that he must be very, very sick, and that is why he had called for me. But when I asked him, “What do you want? Why did you call me?” he answered to my great astonishment, “I want to make my confession!”

I was taken aback at first by this unusual request, since I had assumed that he had wanted me to come and pray over him for healing. Then I grew somewhat infuriated that he had dragged me all the way from the retreat in Bandra, instead of arranging for a priest in the parish where the hospital was situated to come and hear his routine confession. But on second thoughts, I cooled down and said to myself, “Perhaps, that is what he wants, and more important, what he needs.” And when he made his confession – it was a sincere and thorough confession of his whole life – I knew then that that was what he needed and therefore wanted.

My son, your sins are forgiven

I was about to leave his ICU private room, when there suddenly flashed into my mind the Gospel narrative of the healing of the paralyzed man. Whenever I refer to this Gospel incident during a retreat, I make it a point to ask the participants, “What did Jesus first say to the paralyzed man?” The unanimous answer I receive everywhere is, “Your sins are forgiven!” To their disappointment and chagrin, I tell them that this answer is equally wrong! I repeat the question, and with bated breath they wait for my answer to my own question, “The first thing that Jesus told this sick helpless creature was, ‘MY SON’.” And after a pause, I resume and tell them, “Then only did Jesus continue saying, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ (Mk 2:1-12).

For even though Jesus knew that this man was burdened by sin and needed the experience of God’s forgiveness, he also knew that he was oppressed by in a way the greater burden of guilt and needed also the assurance of God’s forgiving love. For God has sent Jesus to save the world, and NOT to condemn it (Jn 3:17). Jesus has indeed come not just to forgive our sins, but to free us from sin’s greatest consequence, the burden of guilt.

The miraculous healing power of Confession

It was therefore without the previous hesitation and with a new assurance that I returned to the sickbed. Looking up to heaven I prayed, “Lord, after you told the paralyzed man, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven’, you did not stop there; but you continued and said, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and go home’. Lord, you are the same: yesterday, today and forever. And so, in imitation of you, I am not going to stop after telling this modern paralytic, in your name and in the name of your church, ‘Your sins are forgiven’. I am going to continue and do what you did 2000 years ago, knowing fully well that what happened then will likewise happen now.”

I then looked down at the sick man and said, “Now that God has forgiven you your sins, I would like to pray for your physical healing too.”

It was his turn now to stare at me in surprise. He had not asked me to pray for healing before. Nor did he ask me to do so even now. It was I who took the initiative and made the suggestion. And after praying for some time, with his sister Jenny, a youth leader of the charismatic renewal in Bombay, I was so sure that what happened in the Gospel story then would happen even now, that I had the nerve to tell him, “Now move”. Before that he could not move his body, because of the intense pain. Now he moved. “Sit up”, I said. He sat up in his bed. “Get out of your bed.” He got out. “Bend over.” He bent over. “Walk about.” He walked about. Only I did not tell him, as Jesus did, “Take up your bed and go home.” For that was not his bed. And the next day he was discharged from the hospital.

How much more are we in the sight of God, our Father, his beloved sons and daughters first and only then sinners – and forgiven sinners at that. Jesus has indeed come not just to forgive our sins, but to free us from sin’s greatest consequence, the burden of guilt.

Joseph’s Testimony

About a year later, I happened to recognize Joseph as a participant of the retreat that I was giving at Vinayalaya Retreat House, Andheri, Mumbai. When at the end of my first day’s talk on God’s initiative of forgiving love and man’s response of repentance, I retold the above incident, I remarked in passing that the young man whose testimony I had related was present here for this retreat, and that if he wished to confirm or change, add to or subtract from what I had said, – he was free to do so.

He got up at once, came on to the platform and facing the audience who looked at him with a sort of wonder, said only one sentence: “When I honestly repented and humbly confessed my sins to God and the Church, with the full assurance of God’s forgiving love in the Sacrament of Confession, I knew deep within myself that I was already even physically healed. – Even now I feel that there was really no need of Father having prayed over me for a physical healing”.

It is therefore through our repentance that we open ourselves to God’s forgiveness, that brings with it the experience of the warm embrace of the Father crying out with out joy, ‘My son, my daughter, was dead and is now alive.

– – – written by Fr. Rufus Pereira

June 6th, 2012

Prayer : Heavenly Father, I Call On You Right Now

Heavenly Father I Call On You

Heavenly Father, I call on you right now in a special way.
It is through your power that I was created.
Every breath I take,
every morning I wake,
and every moment of every hour,
I live under your power.

Father, I ask you now to touch me with that same power.
For if you created me from nothing,
you can certainly recreate me.
Fill me with the healing power of your spirit.
Cast out anything that should not be in me.
Mend what is broken.
Root out any unproductive cells.
Open any blocked arteries or veins and rebuild any damaged areas.
Remove all inflammation and cleanse any infection.

Let warmth of your healing love pass through my body
to make new any unhealthy areas
so that my body will function the way you created it to function.
And Father, restore me to full health
in mind and body so that I may serve you the rest of my life.
I ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Other Healing Prayers:

Healing Prayer

Healing Prayers

God of Healing

A Prayer For Healing

Prayer Accepting Jesus as Saviour And Healer

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