A few months ago, a person came to me on a Wednesday during the retreat, asking for a gate pass to leave the retreat centre. This was just after the physical healing session. He came with a happy face and said he needed a gate pass to leave. I asked him why he was breaking the retreat midway and he replied, “Father, I came here for a particular purpose – to pray for a job. I was jobless for the past eight months though I am well qualified. I was desperate and I came here. But just yesterday night I got a call from a company where I had given my interview and they have asked me to join next week. I am so happy that my Lord has done this. Now I have a lot of things to prepare for and so I have to leave.” I was amused. The person came here to get a blessing – to get a job and the moment he got it, he walked away from the retreat. We live in a world that wants instant relief and instant solutions.
The world today is sophisticated and provides creature comforts. People want to live in comfort and they want to live longer. Anti-ageing creams and cosmetics that help people look younger and better, are in great demand. If that is not enough, a lot of new age religions and gurus who promise instant healings and physical healings are peppering the land. People flock to places and gurus, where they get instant success and instant cure. And it is true that some people do get healed by these so called ‘Godmen’. In that case where does that leave Jesus and our faith in the Lord? Is He also just one among them? Is that what Jesus’ healings are also about? Many argue that healings do take place with different ‘Godmen’ and so what is so special about Jesus?
In the Bible we read about the famous healing by the pool of Bethesda in John chapter 5. The pool of Bethesda was a crowded place. It was crowded because healings would take place there. It was believed that an angel would come and touch the waters and the first person who jumped in would get healed. You can imagine the kind of scenario that would have prevailed there. Something like our modern day aquatic championships would have been going on; and everyone would plan to time their jump into the water perfectly. The place was famous, no doubt. Healings did take place or no one would have come there based on rumours. When Jesus walked into that place, it was crowded and Jesus was not the centre of attraction. This is surprising because usually wherever the Lord went, He would be the centre of attraction. Wherever he went, people would flock to him for healing. But this is one of the only places in the gospel that does not speak about people flocking to Jesus. Here Jesus had to go to the man who was paralysed for thirty eight years. Usually it is the other way round – where people would go to the Lord. So for the people, the pool of Bethesda was a better bet. But Jesus silently walked up to the one person there who did not have a chance – a man who was suffering for thirty eight long years. Out of all the people there, this was the man who had the least hope. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” The man answered, “Lord, I have no one…”. For this man, the sickness had gone deeper than what people saw. Over the years, the paralysis had gone deeper than the physique. The man’s paralysis had reached his heart. He was abandoned by his family. No one wanted him anymore. His life had been rotting for so many years. He had lost hope and so he said “Lord, I have no one”. The Lord told him, “Take your mat and walk”. The man was instantly healed and he stood up and walked away healthy.
Here is the big question – what was the difference in the healings that took place when people jumped into the water and the healing done by Jesus? The paralysed man had walked away healed. But then so did many others who jumped into the water. Then what was special about the Lord’s healing?
What the man cried about was not only his physical body, but also his heart that was paralysed. His plea was not only for a physical healing. A physical healing would only help him stand again, but with pain in his heart, he still would have no hope. So his plea was more than what met the eye. He was asking for more than a physical healing. He was asking for a complete healing. And this is why the Lord said, “Stand up. Take your mat and walk”. Not only did he stand up from his paralysed state, but he also walked away from the brokenness of his heart. That was the difference between this man’s healing and the others. The others would walk away from the pool of Bethesda healed physically. But the waters in the pool could never wash away the pain that they had within. They walked away physically healed, but remained inwardly broken. But the man who was paralysed for thirty eight years, walked away completely healed.
In most places in the Bible, we read about the Lord touching people and healing them. But these people would not go back home with only their physical wounds healed. They would go back completely healed and with smiles on their faces. In Luke 17, from verse 11 onwards, we read about the ten lepers who got healed. They cried out to Jesus in their pain – but not only their physical pain. That was not only what the lepers suffered from. The lepers in those days had to live ostracised. They were thrown away from their homes and families. So the pain was much deeper than physical. These ten cried for a healing and the Lord asked them to go and show themselves to the priests. The word says that on their way they were healed. When they were healed, they went their way holding on to the healing. Only one of them came back to thank the Lord. On seeing him, the Lord said, “Go on your way, your faith has made you well.” Why would the Lord say this? Even the others were made well then why would the Lord say this only to this one man? The Lord definitely meant something much more deeper than the physical healing. The one who came back to the Lord went back with a much more deeper healing. He was healed of the wounds of his heart as well. The healing was deep and complete.
This is where the Lord stands out. Not only are the physical wounds, of those who come to Him healed, but they also experience complete healing. The new age religions and gurus will promise healings that are instant and very superficial. These will not last long. They will give momentary pleasure; they will give instant solutions. And that is about it. When I had gone to the Holy Land the last time, I remember coming across the pool of Bethesda. Today it lies in ruins. There is not a drop of water in it. No more does any angel come there to touch the water and no more do the crowds flock there. People see it only as a tourist site. Here when people come, they no more explain about the glory of the pool but rather they speak about the great healing of the true Healer who healed a man completely. Today the pool lies in ruins and it reflects on the kind of momentary healing that it gave to people. Here the healer itself lies sick. The healer is momentary.
Let us realise that, with us, we have the true and complete Healer. Not only One who heals our physical wounds but also One who heals us much deeper. The Lord might not give us instant solutions and it is wrong of us to approach the Lord in that way. When the Lord works on us, He works completely. Never come into the presence of the Lord without giving him a chance to complete His healing process. Let it never be that we try to use the Lord like a new age guru, looking for instant solutions.
Give Him the opportunity to work on us and heal us the way He knows best.
– Fr. Michael Payyapilly VC