In the film “Dead Man Walking,” there is a striking moment of contrasting pastoral styles. As the condemned prisoner, Matthew Poncelet, walks to his execution, the prison chaplain, Father Farley, suddenly appears to offer his blessing — a dispassionate ritual performed from a safe distance. Meanwhile, Sister Helen Prejean, who risked meeting with Matthew one-on-one, now walks beside him with her hand on his shoulder. The scene enshrines the contrast between the priest’s distant approach to pastoral ministry and the more radically personal accompaniment of Sister Helen. This contrast transcends prison ministry and illuminates a critical dimension of the care of the sick 1, and our approach to life.
Status quo boundaries—if you don’t cross it, there is no healing of marginalized people; those who dwell apart. Jesus respected the law and sent the man to the priests but he was treading on dangerous ground by deliberate contact with an unclean person.
We choose, consciously or not, either to remain at a safe distance or risk more radical accompaniment. Such a minister or layperson chooses the degree of engagement— either protocols driven more by fear than by science or a patient/person-centered approach to healing and health care. 2
When we hold the patient’s story — sometimes entering the patient’s chaos, even — and perhaps especially — when that patient cannot hold their own story because of its staggering weight, we have an amazing opportunity and privilege to be Christ for the patient and see Christ in the patient, like Our Lady does with us as we also celebrate today Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick. Christ saves the whole human being – to raise us up, body and soul, to the fullness of divine life in communion with God and all the redeemed forever. The body therefore has inestimable significance in God’s plan.3
St. Therese of Lisieux can be a guide – to expect miracles is to be a child before our heavenly Father, letting go of our desire for control and allowing him to surprise us with his goodness.
Healings are a normal part that baptized and confirmed Christians are given for evangelization. Jesus has power over illness.4
Healing others is the answer to the challenge of our times… the answer to the “tsunami of secularism” is nothing less than a tsunami of the Spirit – a proclamation of the gospel in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by healings, signs, and wonders that tangibly demonstrate God’s love and convince people that Jesus Christ is truly alive.5 Healing and other miraculous works of God plays a prominent role in evangelization. Begin by letting those hurting that they are accepted and loved. I will only cost you the willingness to say, “How are you doing with all this (sickness)?”
God pours out his gifts, including the gift of healing, freely.6
“By the power at work within us [he] is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20)
Today is the BLA in-pew pledging. The early Christians shared with others. Consider the promises of God in
Isaiah 58:7-8: Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.”
1;2; 6. Rev. David Gerard Demarco, MD, S.J., Entering the Patient’s Chaos, The Priest, 02/2022
3-5 Mary Healy, Healing, Our Sunday Visitor, 2015