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Here is my short list to good health. Get plenty of rest, breathe clean air, eat well, exercise, and don’t do drugs. What is the first thing they do when someone is admitted in the hospital? They connect you to an I.V. machine with a loud alarm and place it beside your ears so that the alarm clock goes off all night and you can never get any rest. Then they lock all the windows which assure that all the illnesses and diseases remain in the room and you never get clean, fresh air. Next, they serve hospital food. Then they strap you in the bed so you can have no exercise, and they pump you with drugs.
I was at the hospital with a family who had requested the sacrament of the sick. I started the prayers when the I.V. alarm went off. It was loud, so people were having a hard time understanding what I was saying. Naturally, no one came in to silence it, so I went to get the nurse. As we were walking back to the room, I told her what I thought about hospitals. At first, I thought she was going to be mad at me, but she surprised me by telling me that I was right. She said, “You do not begin to heal until you return home.”
Why is that? It is because of God. God gives us everything we need in our bodies to heal. Doctors do not heal broken bones. God does by putting stuff inside of us to help us heal quickly.
Paul asked the Lord three times to take away the thorn in his flesh. No one has a clue as to what the thorn symbolically stands for: a toothache, churches giving him problems like the Galatians, a mother-in-law. Paul never says what ailed him. But he does tell us what the Lord told him: “My grace is sufficient.” That means that God gives us what we need when we need it.
When I was ten years old, my friend tragically drowned in a canoeing accident. I was devastated. Mom said to me, “Peter, you have to heal.” First, pray to God. Then you will realize that your God is your friend who is going to take care of your little friend forever, and that will give you peace of mind. Then you will sleep well. Then you will eat really delicious food and a lot of it. Then you will exercise by playing. You will play more than you ever did before and your smile will come back, and your friend in heaven will be happy that you are happy. I did what I needed to do to heal.
It happens. We find ourselves in a hole, and we have no energy to get out. But God gives us a way out. He gives us everything we need to do what we need to get well.
Jesus, as you know, is the model for healing. After Peter denied Jesus, Peter went fishing and caught nothing. The Lord was on the beach the next morning and told them to cast the net on the right side. They catch 153 very large fish. After that Jesus made them breakfast on the beach with a charcoal fire with their best friend, who was dead and buried a week ago. Just when you think it doesn’t get any better than that, Jesus tells Peter that he is the shepherd of the church, which means he has been declared the Pope. Not a bad promotion. So we know that Peter is having a good day. But my question is why is the Lord so happy. Why is Jesus dishing out all these gifts and promotions? Shouldn’t Jesus be angry? One would expect him to brood over his injuries? He was crucified and left by his friends and followers. No, because Jesus heals quickly. How did Jesus heal so quickly from such a terrible trauma of the cross? Jesus has a great spiritual life. He is well connected with his Father in heaven. He forgives, and he is generous.
He told his disciples that he would return to the Father. In the beginning of the Gospel it says that he was from the bosom of the Father. That is an ancient expression which means reclining at table. So when Jesus returned, he had dinner his Father. I can picture the dinner in my mind. The Father and Jesus raised their glasses and the Father proposed a toast: “To my son who just saved the world.” Jesus heals quickly because he has a strong relationship with his Father.
The most important thing we will ever do as Christians is to heal? Why? Because we get banged up in life, we get hurt. Jesus even promised that we would carry crosses, be persecuted and suffer greatly. We will need to heal. So God gives us what we need to heal. God gives us gardens, sunsets, literature, delicious foods, family and friendship and a relationship with the divine. We need to heal so we can be the best we can be to do the work of God. Otherwise, we are loaded down with wounds that never heal. When Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient” it means that God has given us everything we need to keep healthy. We just have to use the gifts.Back to All Homilies