Director, Office of Child and Youth Protection and Victim Assistance
Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Bible contains timeless patterns and themes that speak to the human spirit like grace, faith, atonement, promises and healing. My favorite recurring scriptural theme is how Jesus often utilizes a particular sequence. In some ways, He’s predictable. And that can be very comforting. Many Bible stories begin with a person wanting to break free of some desperate situation. The characters try to do things on their own and fail, their problems are just too overwhelming, or they are so helpless that they can’t do anything for themselves. And that’s where Jesus and His healing miracles come in.
Jesus went around teaching from town to town, and His healings were always carried out in very deep and meaningful ways. A desperate person living in the time of Jesus might have inevitably discovered His route and taken time to ponder the possibilities. Then the person, like each of us, had to decide whether to take action or not. Some cried out “Jesus, have mercy!” Others crawled over bystanders for a chance to touch Jesus. How many other people needed healing from Jesus but were too afraid to call out to Him? How many were too proud to seem desperate in front of their friends?
Many times, people experience true healing only after they become utterly desperate. But that’s not enough. A person must also have hope. After that, the person must engage in some sort of action. Usually, the required action has a cost, though not necessarily a monetary cost. The pattern recurs in story after story, and the situation is essentially the same. Jesus turns around to heal the lame man, the woman with the bleeding disorder, the lepers, the blind, those possessed by demons and even the dead! Many of these people were peasants, so we know they didn’t pay actual money for their life-changing moments with Jesus. Reading and re-reading the accounts of Jesus’ healing miracles might just bring us to a profound conclusion: Desperation is completely useless without a sense of hope. And that hope is perfected in Jesus Christ.
Perhaps we don’t really understand the mechanics of healing because we focus too much on the results of the stories. It’s in our nature to focus on the “happy ending.” To truly understand, however, we must study the details of events leading up to those happy results. Those healed were desperate, yet hopeful people. Their hopeful desperation fueled them to dare to reach out, scream or call out to Jesus despite the presence of someone or something trying to keep them quiet or far removed from Him. When the sick took action, often against great odds, Jesus stopped and focused on the individual person. Jesus was moved with compassion, amazed at unwavering faith, or amused by the crazy things they were willing to do to get themselves or others near Him. Remember the story about the men that sawed through the roof to get their friend lowered down in front of Jesus? It would be great to have been there to see that! Did Jesus crack up laughing at these folks in the middle of his sermon? Or, did He just stand there shaking his head in amazement? In any case, Jesus never turned desperate people away. His timing was surprising, even annoying sometimes, but He always took the time to help desperate, hurting people. What are we willing to do to get close to Jesus? What are we willing to do to get someone we love close to Jesus? Once people reached Jesus, the Bible notes that He was moved with compassion. Then, He would stop and ask his usual question, “What do you want me to do?” Notice in other verses how the Bible documents how Jesus knew what people were thinking or planning to say. If they were thinking unholy thoughts, He would sometimes answer their questions before they asked. Knowing this about Jesus, we might wonder why Jesus would go around annoying people with rhetorical questions. And this is where it gets really good.
Something profound happens when a person articulates their desperate needs to Jesus, be it in a scream, a whisper or a tiny voice inside. And therein lies the very definition of prayer: “Jesus, I need _________.” Jesus already knows our innermost thoughts and desires, so why then, does He require us to say what we want from Him? Perhaps when we put into words what we need from Jesus, we admit that there’s something that only He can do. We acknowledge that it is not something we can do for ourselves. But some people are so lost and so heartbroken that they do not even acknowledge it. Jesus doesn’t push or hurry us; He waits for us. But can we be desperate for something we don’t know we need? We all know we can feel desperate, and Jesus, the one true Savior, is always there for us. The first book of Peter urges us to “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) But sometimes we have to do the hard work of giving up something harmful or unholy before we can embrace healing from Jesus. For example, if we want to be healed from the constant mental anguish caused by recurring thoughts of some abuse in our past, we cannot be completely healed AND continue to hate our abusers at the same time. We cannot firmly grip our hatred or despair and grab onto Jesus at the same time. We must let go of one thing to have room to receive the other.
Jesus never hurried anyone or tried to force Himself on anyone. He waited patiently until the person was ready to be healed. He does the same for us today. When we are desperate or tired enough, Jesus knows. When people admitted their desperation to Jesus in the scriptures, He healed them. He is waiting to hear our voices, too. So many negative voices often speak inside a wounded person’s head, voices that tell us we are not worthy of anything good, that we deserved everything that happened, or that Jesus only cares about good, rich or accomplished people. It might help to remember that Jesus, too, was tempted by negative voices. Remember when Satan tested him in the desert when he had not eaten for a long time and was hungry?
One of the ways Jesus resisted these tempting voices was to remind the evil one that “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) The power and encouragement we need to drive away the negative voices are contained in God’s Word!
Jesus wants to hear our voices in supplication. By requiring us to ask for what we need, He helps us find our own voices again. Anyone desperate and in need of healing must dare to have hope. We must dare to call all out to Him. Jesus is on the other side of the door, knocking and waiting. All we have to do is open the door and tell Him what it is that only He can give us.
Many people today have a hard time figuring out where to find Jesus. Jesus Christ remains ever-present in the Holy Eucharist. He is present in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He is present in a loving spouse and in a loyal friend. No person is too lost to be found by Jesus. He loves each of us and desires to heal our hearts, bodies, souls and spirits. Let us immerse ourselves in His cross, Let us hide ourselves in the wounds of His hands, His feet and His side. Let us meditate on His beautiful face and dare to run into His outstretched arms. We have waited long enough.
Jesus Christ is the Word Made Flesh, and it’s only through His redemptive, resurrecting power that we can ever hope to find healing. We call out to Him, and when Jesus turns around, He will heal us. His grace is sufficient. Enough said.
Amy Cordon has served as the Director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection and Victim Assistance in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana since 2007. She holds a BA in Psychology from Southeastern Louisiana University. Professionally, she has completed specialized training in the prevention and management of aggressive behavior and in investigations. Cordon has volunteered over 15 years in international medical missions, specifically in the areas of logistics, translations and medical equipment procurement and placement in Mexico, Honduras, Bonaire and El Salvador. She has worked many years in her local community as a qualified mental health case manager, serving chronic mentally Ill, youth and young adults and geriatric populations. Prior to her appointment as the Director, Office of Child and Youth Protection and Victim Assistance, she served eight years in Catholic health care providing mental health assessments, care planning and bereavement services. She is a member of the Child and Youth Protection Leadership Advisory Committee.
This article was first published in the May 2017 issue, which may be viewed in full here.