Their message goes out through all the earth – Psalm 19
If we have a familiarity with the Gospels, we are familiar with stories of Jesus healing people. We know his healing of the blind man, telling the paralyzed man to pick up his mat and walk, and his raising of Lazarus from the dead (Jn 9; Mt 9; Jn 11). But how familiar are we with current stories of Catholics healing in Jesus’ name? Have we seen someone be healed? Do we even expect Jesus to heal people now? Have we ever thought to pray for healing for someone in person, in Jesus’ name? This is where my own spirit of skepticism likes to make its entrance (and I have a feeling I’m not alone in this)… ‘Those things don’t really happen now…’ ‘Well, Jesus only heals through certain people who have that gift and I don’t think I do…’ ‘I definitely believe Jesus can do those things, but…’
Are these thoughts in line with what we are learning from Scripture during this most wonderful season of Easter? Actually, not at all. In today’s Gospel, Jesus says:
“[w]hoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these because I am going to the Father.”
Wait a minute… Did Jesus say only certain Christians with certain spiritual gifts will do the works that He does? No! He says, whoever believes in Him. So wait…. that includes me? Yes! I definitely believe in Christ, and if you believe in our Lord and Savior, this includes you! Wow. This is really exciting and can also seem kind of scary. And I can imagine the first apostles didn’t feel much differently than you or I.
Today’s feast celebrates two apostles, St. Philip and St. James. The apostles were not exempt from that same spirit of skepticism. In the Gospel, after Jesus has just told them that if they know Him they also know the Father, James responds that it will be enough if they can just see the Father (Jn 14:7-8). Many, if not all, of us can identify with James. Truly, it is only through God’s grace that our skepticism can be healed and we can receive greater faith in its place. In the book of Acts, God reveals to us His mission for His Church: That as the Father has sent the Son, so now the Son will return to the Father and send the Holy Spirit to believers, that WE may perpetuate and carry to completion Christ’s earthly mission – the restoration of the Kingdom (Jn 20:21, Acts 1:6-8). What characterized His earthly mission? Teaching and preaching the good news, accompanied by signs & wonders — healings. As Christ promised, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles at Pentecost — the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. And this is the same spirit each of us have received through the grace of our baptisms. It is through the Holy Spirit of God that Christ can do His work in and through us, just as he did through the first disciples of the early church. These are Jesus’ words that we read today:
“And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
In His name, He has promised to work great signs and wonders through us for the glory of God. The rest of Acts is an exciting account of how the first disciples of the Lord lived out this mission of the Church. The Church is still called to this mission today.
In the past couple of years, the Lord has worked to transform my skeptical heart. He has taken me to places I never could have imagined by inviting me to partake in healing ministry. He has drawn me in to witness His healing firsthand and, in His grace, He has built up my faith, inspired me, and ignited me. I have seen the glory of our God through miracles of a woman’s cancer healed, people’s chronic pain be healed, my own husband’s injured wrists be healed, and felt my own body and uneven shoulders be restored to even-ness through prayers of healing, among other countless miracles, all for the glory of God. As I have witnessed these incredible physical healings, I’ve seen and experienced personally the greatest miracle – how God uses His signs and wonders to bring inner healing, convert our hearts, and set us free. Our God is alive and at work through his church worldwide. He only asks us to have faith and not be afraid to step out in faith in His name, and this is how we partake in and perpetuate Christ’s mission.
Today, may we ask our Lord for the gift of holy boldness in our faith, through the intercession of Sts. Philip and James. Let’s ask this for ourselves and for every Christian. That as we approach Pentecost, the fire of the Holy Spirit would reignite our hearts and enflame us with the all-consuming love of God.
Holy Spirit, come, fill our hearts with the fire of your Love. Lord Jesus, thank you for inviting us into your earthly mission. Father, thank you for drawing us in to your divine plan of salvation for the whole world. Lord God, ignite our hearts anew with holy boldness. Heal our hearts of skepticism, we surrender our skepticism to you and ask for greater faith. Help us to know who you are more fully. Fill us with your charity, your burning love, your endless mercy and compassion, and inspire us through your most Holy Spirit to live out the mission you have given us. We pray all of these things through the intercession of St. Philip and St. James, and in the most Holy name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
For more info, I highly recommend: The Spiritual Gifts Handbook: Using Your Gifts to Build the Kingdom by Randy Clark and Dr. Mary Healy