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In our fears and needs, we reach out for Christ

by Monsignor Gaspar F. Ancona
Jesus the Healer captivates us, because, after all these years since his earthly ministry, we still need him in our times of weakness and sickness. Our era provides us many advances in the healing arts and medicine. We have even come to expect what in other times would have been considered miracles. Yet, even so, plenty of illnesses and diseases baffle modern medicine, refusing to surrender to its strategies and powers. Many an ailing person still hopes for the prayers of family and friends, besides relying on the skills of dedicated nurses and physicians.
Jesus was direct and up close with those who were sick. His apostles and friends sometimes tried to be protective of him and pushed away some of those who begged him for help. Maybe the apostles were also afraid that their Master, like them, wouldn't be able to do anything for such severe cases of illness or disability. But sometimes the sick or the disabled and their helpers made so much commotion that Jesus inevitably gave in to their noisy entreaties. He told them that he had come to bring good news. And what better news can sick people hear than they are about to get well again? And, oh yes, that other bit of good news: Their sins were forgiven! No matter if they had not even gotten around to asking him for forgiveness. Jesus announced it to them anyway. He presented them back to their families and friends as new creatures of God, set right with all the world. No wonder they couldn't stop shouting out with joy and praising God! Their worst fears were overcome.
Jesus continues this dramatic ministry even now. Through his friends and family who constitute the Church, the living Jesus offers himself for healing and forgiveness. Sometimes, though, this healing ministry of Christ goes unnoticed, because it works in ways that may seem ordinary. Through the skills and hands of nurses and doctors or the absolving voice of a priest; through the kiss of a spouse or parent or the warm embrace of children and friends, do not fear! It is the Lord who draws near.
Monsignor Ancona is a senior priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids.