Woman, who is left to condemn you? No one, sir. Neither do I condemn you. Go away and sin no more. (John 8:11)
How often do we see religion used to justify war, or used to discriminate and put down others? It was no different in Jesus' day, where many were discarded because they didn't fit in, because they weren't special enough. Yet Jesus was different.
Jesus cared even when others stopped caring. He spent time healing people. He touched lepers and blind people, those whom society had given up on. In many ways, Fred Hollows (1923 - 1993) and Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910 - 1997) remind us of Jesus' actions. They would encounter an individual and offer them comfort and healing. Jesus did not only heal fellow Jews, but cared for people of other races, even the daughter of a commander of the army that occupied his land.
His healing was not merely physical. It was also healing that enabled people to get on with their lives. Zaccheus the tax collector after encountering Jesus promised to make amends for stealing from others and reconcile himself with his community. The woman who washed Jesus' feet was honoured by Jesus for her act. Her self-respect was restored.
Jesus offered healing and new life through his words. "Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest." He compared God's love to that of a shepherd or farmer who leaves his flock behind to search for a missing sheep. Have we ever felt lost or alone? One of his most amazing stories when describing God concerns a son who wishes his father would die so he could gain his inheritance. In a crazy act, the father gives him his share and the son wastes it all. When he is at his wit's end, he returns to his father, hoping to be forgiven. The father not only interrupts his son in the act of apologising, but restores him to his family. In Jewish understanding, such reconciliation was unthinkable.
Healing was very much an expression of wholeness for Jesus. "Your faith has made you well" or "Your sins are forgiven" were phrases that often accompanied Jesus' healing. It suggests that what was far more significant to Jesus was our interior health, the well-being of our inner self.
How are you and God getting on? Are you reconciled with yourself and others?
If we are feeling alone, trapped in our daily routine, in pain, or in need, Jesus offers us new life today.
Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry. Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: "Your faith has made you well; go in peace." Jesus' call to healing offers a conversion of the heart, interior conversion. This interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and efforts to restore relations with others. Find out about sacramental healing here or pray for healing and support here. Our Church has many groups that offer healing and support: click here to find out more.
"Do unto to others what I have done unto you." If we believe that God has loved us into life and loves us despite the times we fail and let ourselves and others down, then we are called to do the same. St Francis' prayer asks: "Make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred let me sow love." We are called to heal and support others, to love them as we have been loved. There are many ways we, the Church, are involved in mission and outreach.