Holy Land Pilgrimage

Through the Lens of Illness

January 21, 2018

“Don’t get sick over there!” The stern, and yet motherly voice of Dorothy followed me down the hallway as I headed back to my room to pack. Don’t get sick over there! Well, it didn’t take long for me to get sick, and yet, being under the weather provided me with a unique opportunity to see Jesus through a different lens, through the eyes of one seeking healing.

We’ve heard the Gospel stories at Mass, the ones about men and women, ordinary people, burdened with illness and seeking compassion, healing, and forgiveness. Recently, we heard of a man with a withered hand, waiting outside the synagogue. He was looking for that compassion and healing and he found it in the Son of God. The story of the man born blind who had his sight restored by Jesus. The faith of the four men in the healing power of Jesus, lowered their paralytic friend down to him. The woman who had suffered a hemorrhage for 12 years, knew in her heart that Jesus could heal her. He didn’t even have to touch her physically, it would be enough to touch Jesus’ garments.

There are many stories of Jesus healing the sick. Pope Francis tells us that the mission of the Church is to heal the wounds of the heart, to open doors, to free people. This is the healing that Jesus did and still does. It’s not so much about physical healing, it’s more about spiritual healing. It’s a cleansing and healing of the soul that Jesus is concerned with. He tells the woman with the hemorrhage that it was her faith that he saw. Her faith was what made her well. When Jesus heals the paralytic man, he sees the faith of that man’s friends and tells him that his sins are forgiven. Jesus has cleansed his soul.

We’re all sick and in need of cleansing. I had to physically get sick here in the Holy Land so that I could see that it’s not a matter of healing my chest cold, it’s a matter of allowing Jesus to heal my soul.

By Jim Goerend, Archdiocese of Dubuque

Photos by Peter Pedrasa, Diocese of Tucson

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