The following is the main part of a homily preached by Father Stanley Moczydlowski at a diocesan Healing Mass May 2 at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, Whitehall, celebrated by Bishop Alfred Schlert. All were invited for healing of physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional illness.
Jesus came to save us. And in the Bible, salvation and healing are often synonymous. To be saved is to be healed in every way possible, physically, spiritually, emotionally. That is what we pray for tonight, God’s healing love.
There is no one who is not in need of some sort of healing in our world. We become wounded by many things: by the result of our actions or sin; the result of another’s actions or sin toward us; or through circumstances beyond anyone’s personal control (accidents, natural disaster, disease) … or just as a result of our own mortality.
Our woundedness often causes us to seek God for healing. God is present there, but God is also present in our wounds and in our brokenness.
When we suffer trauma (physical, mental, emotional, sexual) at the hands of another, those wounds go deep and often get stored in our hearts. God wants us to brings those wounds to Him, not hide them or bury them or repress them. Love lets the wound comes out to be healed.
The devil wants to bind these wounds up in our heart so that we can never let them go and truly be healed. It’s like he wants to tie a cord around our heart to prevent us from letting go of these wounds. The kinds of wounds that the devil wants to keep bound and tied up are many, but I want to mention three.
The wound of Powerlessness. This is the idea that I am stuck in a place that I can never get out of. The devil bombards us with “you are damaged” and “you will never be fixed.” There is no question that the trauma and the brokenness you experience and feel are real. But we need to recall the words of St. Paul in Chapter 12 in his second letter to the Corinthians: “A thorn in my flesh was given to me, an Angel of Satan to beat me.” “The Lord said to me, for power is made perfect in weakness.” He recognized that when I turn to the Lord, His power makes me strong in my weakness. He realized that the power of God can shine through our wounds and brokenness, not just in our healing.
The second wound is Betrayal. When we suffer at the hands of another, we question what gives them the right? It makes it even more difficult when we know and trust the person; when it’s a friend, a family member, our spouse, our priest. How can we ever trust again? How can we ever let go of the anger or pain? To keep this bound up in your heart is to hold onto unforgiveness.
One of the many great paradoxes about our faith is recognizing that the only way to heal the wounds we are suffering with, is to forgive the one who has caused our suffering. Otherwise we will never be free to open our heart and to allow our wounds to be healed by God’s love. To forgive will make you face the reality of the hurt and pain and help you realize you need the Lord’s help to carry the cross you have received.
The third wound is that of Ambivalence. We suddenly see things that should bring us comfort, pleasure, and peace as things that are now bad. How can I ever love, or trust a family member, a spouse, the Church, or God? How can I possibly find happiness or joy in my relationships without somehow feeling bad or broken or betrayed?
God never wills any injustice or hurt or pain. He allows these crosses in our lives to expand our capacity to experience His great love for us if we but turn to Him. Jesus did not come to suppress suffering all at once, nor to explain it, nor to justify it. He came to assume it and transform it.
Actions have consequences, and we should never tolerate or perpetuate the abuse that people experience at the hands of others. But where do we need to focus to experience healing in our life? There is one place, and that is with God. And there is one standard, and that is the cross.
Jesus was perfectly human and perfectly divine. The suffering He experienced on the cross was not a result of anything He brought about. He freely accepted it, His redemptive suffering, for our salvation and healing caused by our sin.
Jesus speaking from the cross really exemplifies the model for dealing with the suffering endured in our life and especially at the hands of someone else.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). The first words Jesus spoke after being nailed on the cross are words of forgiveness.
“Amen I say to you, this day you will be with me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43). The mercy of God is always there reaching out to save a soul even at the last minute.” Even in His agony, Jesus is reaching out to heal or save others.
“Women behold thy son. Behold thy mother” (Jn. 19:26). In His suffering Jesus continues to look to care for those we love.
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’ (Mk. 15:34). This is the opening verse of Psalm 22. The beginning of the Psalm expresses His feeling of abandonment. The ending of that Psalm goes on to say: “Then I will proclaim your name to my brethren: in the assembly I will praise you. For He has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord.” Jesus experienced the fullness of human emotion. He chose to pray, while hanging on the cross, a prayer that begins with discouragement and ends with joyful hope and faith.
“I thirst” (Jn. 19:28). This is the only verbal expression of His physical suffering throughout His scourging and crowning with thorns, walking with and falling from and nailing to the cross. But His thirst was for those He was compelled to redeem.
“It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). Jesus fulfilled His mission, and His earthly suffering was soon to be over. His ministry and His resulting death paid the debt for the salvation of all mankind.
“Into your hands I commend my Spirit” (Lk: 23-46). He willingly gives up His soul to His father in heaven. Every action of Jesus was to do God’s will, and every motivation was based purely on love.
The passion of Jesus is an invitation to abide in Him and to be healed. Tonight we spent time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We had the opportunity to receive His healing love in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And now, we encounter this most clearly in the Eucharist, where we come together to celebrate this healing, the ultimate reality of our salvation and to pray for the grace to open our hearts to let His healing presence restore us to recognize the realization of exactly who we are, “Beloved children of God.”