Channels of Wellness
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

There are so many food supplements and products being promoted by word of mouth or modern media today. All of them promise to deliver some improvement in terms of one’s health and general well-being, although they are careful enough to carry a disclaimer, “no prescribed therapeutic effect.” That these products have a good market, is an indicator of people’s desire for wellness. Another indicator is the growing popularity of “alternative medicine”. People seek healing through indigenous procedures such as massage, herbal concoctions, and religious rituals. Perhaps, this also indicates that conventional procedures are perceived to have their limits.

Action starter: How can you be a healing presence?

There is the amusing story of a man who was suffering from a disease of the legs so that he could not walk. Some relatives insisted on his being treated by a doctor. Other relatives wanted the local “herbolario” or medicine man. To keep the peace, the man decided that the doctor treat one leg and the indigenous healer treat the other leg. What leg got healed first is your end of the story.

This Sunday’s gospel (Mk. 5:21-43) tells us two healing stories in the ministry of Jesus. In both instances there was the strong desire for healing and faith in Jesus’ power to heal. Jairus, the synagogue leader wanted healing for his beloved daughter. The woman who was suffering from hemorrhage wanted healing for herself. Their faith was rewarded. Jairus’ daughter, although already dead, was brought back to life. The woman was freed from illness, although she only touched the cloak of Jesus.

By his healing ministry Jesus demonstrated His Father’s desire, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living” (Wis. 1:13). He was also clear about his mission, “I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10). Jesus has so united Himself with His Father’s will that He could effect it. He was able to bring healing and restore life. The miracles of Jesus were signs of God’s work in Him and through Him.

This explains why many of the saints were also able to perform miracles. They were so in tune with God that they became channels of God’s will to heal and to give life. It is no longer they who are at work but God works through them. This brings us to the insight that anyone who is close to God and who desires to serve God also becomes an agent of healing. He desires wellness rather than illness. He brings blessings rather than curses. He brings peace rather than strife, joy instead of sadness, and life instead of death.

This also leads us to the reflection that he who desires to bring healing must also be close to God. A channel that delivers life-giving water must be free from blockade. A channel of healing must be free from ill well. From this viewpoint we can better understand the ancient advice to doctors, “First, do no harm to the patient.”

This Sunday’s readings remind us to be a healing presence. Let us wish each other wellness rather than illness. This can evenn take the form of generosity to others, as the second reading illustrates. Here, St. Paul advised the Christian community he founded in Corinth to be generous with their resources and help the community in Jerusalem. They were enjoying God’s bounty and so they should help others, “Excel also in this generous service. You know well the generosity of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Although he was rich, he made himself poor to make you rich through his poverty” (2 Cor. 8-12).

Let our prayer be inspired by St. Francis of Assisi,

“Lord make me a channel of your grace,
Where there is sadness, let me bring gladness
Where there is illness, let me bring wellness
Where there is death, let me bring life.”