Healing: Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World by Dr. Mary Healy

My Summary Notes from: Healing: Bringing the Gift of God's Mercy 
to the World by Dr. Mary Healy

Chapter 1: A Tsunami of the Spirit

The answer to the challenge of our times… the answer to the “tsunami of secularism” is nothing less that a tsunami of the Spirit – a proclamation of the gospel in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by healings, signs, and wonders that tangibly demonstrate God’s love and convince people that Jesus Christ is truly alive (15).

The Apostolic Church reveals the blueprint for the life and mission of the Church. Healing and other miraculous works of God played a prominent role in this first evangelization.

God pours out his gifts, including the gift of healing, freely. He desires to give this gift far more abundantly than we think. He is not limited by our abilities, but only by our faith and our desire to be used by him (20).

“By the power at work within us [he] is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20)

Chapter 2: The Kingdom Is at Hand

Christ came not just to “save souls” but to save human beings – to raise us up, body and soul, to the fullness of divine life in communion with God and all the redeemed forever. The body therefore has inestimable significance in God’s plan (26).

Healing and deliverance are not just peripheral but at the very heart of his mission (28).

Nowhere do the Gospels record that he instructed a person simply to bear the suffering assigned to them. In no case does he indicate that a person is asking for too much and should be content with a partial healing or no healing. He invariably treats illness as an evil to be overcome rather than a good to be embraced. The Gospels record no instance in which a person asks Jesus for healing and is categorically refused. Every healing Jesus initiated was on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a sign of our highest dignity – our covenant relationship with God – and of the freedom and joy that comes from communion with him (35).

Q. Have we too easily accepted the idea that sickness should simply be embraced? Do we too easily assume that if a person is ill, God wants her to remain that way for her good? Could our resignation to illness or infirmity even sometimes be a cloak for unbelief?

Chapter 3: Healing in the Age of the Apostles

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father” (John 14:12).

Peter and Paul show an initial fulfillment of this promise (Peter’s shadow Acts 5  & Paul’s handkerchief & apron Acts 19). They healed by announcement or by command, sometimes with the laying on of hands. For Paul, manifestations of the Spirit’s power were an essential part of the preaching of the gospel. Paul regards miracles as the credentials given by Christ to confirm his apostolic calling (2 Cor 12:12).

The Gospel’s own self-authenticating power – its power to make present the reality it announces – and also through the miraculous healings by which God himself bore witness to the spoken message and disposed the hearts of the listeners to believe it.

Strong relationship between miracles and growth of the Church.

Chapter 4: Healing in Church History

Healings were seen as part of the normal equipment that believers are given for evangelization.

Chapter 5: Are Healings Real?

St. Therese of Lisieux can be our spiritual model – to expect miracles is to be a child before our heavenly Father, letting go of our desire for control and allowing him to surprise us with his goodness (76).

Chapter 6: The Role of Faith

Your faith has made you well” – no statement of Jesus is quoted more often in the Gospels. No saying is more characteristic of his healing miracles.

Christ chose to make his miracles dependent upon human faith. A healing is an encounter between God’s power and human receptivity. Christian faith has an active, dynamic quality. It is a personal relationship with the Lord in which we are drawing near to him and entrusting ourselves to him.Faith is a gift of God to which we yield. It cannot be conjured up.The way to increase our faith is to act on the little faith we have. Faith therefore takes risks; it puts itself forward; it strives against obstacles. Very often those in the Gospels have to contend for their healing (82-3).

When prayer is not answered, God will gradually change our hearts the more we persist in prayer to change our desires to become more closely aligned with his will.th

The thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12) –> best approach is to pray with great confidence in the Lord’s will to heal, yet leave the outcome entirely in his hands. Paul never assumed the thorn was God’s will. He begged the Lord 3 times to remove it and only stopped asking when it was made clear to him that it was God’s will.

Chapter 7: Overcoming Obstacles

Sin and guilt (Mark 2:5)… but we are not the ones to judge whether a physical ailment is related to personal sin.

Intergenerational obstacles (Exod 20:5)… although temporal consequences can take their tolls on subsequent generations… all the more does grace reign!

Inner wounds (John 5:6)… bring them to Jesus in prayer.

Unforgiveness – perhaps the greatest block to healing (Mark 11:25 & Mt 18:23-35)… we have a hard time receiving God’s free gift of mercy, so we begrudge giving away mercy to others…. To forgive is to set ourselves free, and to allow God’s mercy and healing to overflow in us.

Chapter 8: The Charism of Healing

Charisms are gifts of the Spirit. They are not a reward for virtue (cf Gal 3:5) and not a sign of heroic sanctity (cf. Acts 3:12, Mt 7:22-23, 1 Cor 13:1-3), but freely bestowed gifts given by God because He loves His children and delights to involve them in His work of building up the body of Christ.

Paul’s teaching on charisms = 1st Corinthians.

  • Chapter 12 = source and purpose of the gifts = for the common good.
  • Chapter 13 = the foundational principle – love – that orders all exercise of the charisms. Every use of charisms is measured by the standard of love. Exercising a charism must always be an act of love.
  • Chapter 14 = practical directions for using charisms.

Charismatic gifts are distributed by the Spirit in different measures to different people. They are not primarily for personal sanctification (like the 7 sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive at baptism and confirmation), but for the building up of the body of Christ. They are gifts to be used for others and help us to learn to be dependent on one another, so that the body of Christ functions as a living organism, each part contributing in a unique way to the whole (1 Cor 12:17-21). No one has all charisms, precisely b/c we need one another.

Charisms are also distinct from human talents. A charism is not a natural ability but a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit to either (1) enable one to do what is humanly impossible (prophecy or healings) or (2) elevate a natural endowment (teaching or hospitality) to a supernatural level of efficacy.

  • supernatural gifts: healing, prophecy, miracles (1 Cor 12:8-10)
  • natural gifts: service, teaching, exhortation, contribution, administration, acts of mercy (Rom 12:6-8)

Charisms are “manifestations of the Spirit” (1 Cor 12:7). So a charism is not something you possess and can use at will, but the Holy Spirit uses you according to His will and timing to display his presence and power.

Paul insists that every Christian is endowed with one or more of the charisms for building up the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:7, cf. Eph 4:7). The use of charisms is therefore NOT optional (1 Pet 4:10, cf. Rom 12:6-7)

We must strive eagerly for these spiritual gifts, especially those that are most useful (1 Cor 14:1).

How do we do this? Pray for them, learn about them, stir them up, put them into practice, grow in their exercise. Holy Spirit works the most through open and generous hearts. Also ask for humility at the same time. You need a heart filled with simple, childlike faith in the Lord Jesus.

Healing is one of the charisms the Holy Spirit bestows on Christ’s followers to equip us for mission. The only way you can find out if you have the charism of healing = pray for healing!

James’ teaching on healing:

  • James 5:14-16.
  • Sacrament of Anointing of Sick – both physical & spiritual healing.
  •  Sacrament of Reconciliation and prayer of the faithful.

Chapter 9: Redemptive Suffering

  • Suffering has inestimable value for those who are in Christ: learn obedience (Heb 5:8), humbles us and softens our rough edges (Heb 12:6), configures us to share in the self-giving love of Jesus (Mt 10:38, 16:24), prepares us for glory (Rom 8:17), becomes a means of grace for others (2 Cor 1:6, 4:10-12, Col 1:24).
  • Nevertheless, when Jesus exhorts his disciples to expect suffering and rejoice in it, he is referring to apostolic suffering: the trials associated with persecution for the sake of the gospel (cf. Lk 6:22-23) and NOT physical/emotional suffering (an evil to be overcome that Jesus heals). Although the theology of redemptive suffering covers both areas, our response should not be the same. The recognition that suffering is an objective evil is the basis for all human efforts to alleviate it. There is no contradiction between the redemptive value of suffering and asking God for healing (BOTH AND = embrace our suffering in love and pray for healing with expectant faith, cf. 1 Peter 4:13, James 5:16).
  • Stop praying for healing only when you feel an interior sense that it is God’s will.

Chapter 10: Saints and Sacraments

  • The sacraments are particularly efficacious ways in which Christ the divine Physician continues his work of healing through the Church.
  • Eucharist = “medicine of immortality” ~ Ignatius of Antioch

Chapter 11: Healing of the Heart

  • Jesus the great Physician is an expert at healing the human heart, wounded and bruised by the traumas of life, by the sins committed against us, and by our own sins and coping mechanisms.
  • John 4 Woman at the Well example.
  • The primary goal of healing ministry is to bring a person into an encounter with Jesus.
  • Every parish should establish a healing ministry team.
  • Physical healings are always meant to lead to something much greater. While respecting their freedom, give the invitation for a deeper healing of an encounter with Christ.

Chapter 12: Three Keys for Seeing the Lord’s Power to Heal

  1. Intimacy with Jesus – the more we are united to Jesus, the more freely he is able to act through us and the more we long to give away His love to the lost and broken (cf. Mark 3:14, 6:30-31, 2 Cor 5:14). Fruitfulness comes from being with Jesus or it will not come at all (John 15:5).
  2. Ask, Seek, Knock – Mt 7:7-11. We must ask on Christ’s authority and in union with Christ. We have been asking for too little of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:31; 14:1, Rom 8:32). Ask not only for the gift of healing, but all the graces needed to exercise it effectively (simplicity, purity of heart, boundless confidence in the Lord, renewed outpouring of the Spirit, boldness to proclaim the Gospel, to share Christ’s heart, to fight against indifference, to love like Christ does).
  3. “Do Whatever He Tells You” – John 2:5. We need to be obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, regardless of whether we think they make any sense. We need to take risks and trust that He will lead us.

Chapter 13: A Model for Healing Prayer

  1. Interview – Briefly interview the person. Never accuse, never go digging. Do not delve into a person’s inner life.
  2. Prayer selection – petition or command.
  3. Prayer of faith – pray very specifically, with great expectancy and confidence, using either prayers of petition or words of command or both, as the Spirit leads (avoid “if it be your will”), pray with eyes opened, let the Holy Spirit lead, lead them in renouncing evil if need be.
  4. Stop and Re-interview – see how they feel & if any change has happened, give thanks to God for any improvement.
  5. Post-Prayer suggestion – encourage them to continue to give God glory, be aware of upcoming spiritual attacks, persevere in asking God for healing, write down some Scripture for them to meditate on, come back to see you again.

Commonsense Guidelines:

  • 1st step is to deepen your personal relationship with Jesus and receive prayer for an infilling with the Holy Spirit.
  • Find a good prayer group.
  • Only join a healing ministry that is accountable to the proper church authority.

Best Practices:

  • keep the focus on Jesus – ideally do healing ministry after Mass or adoration.
  • pray in pairs whenever possible
  • have catchers available in case people fall.
  • remember that you are not able to heal anyone – God is the healer. He is in control.

Mistakes to Avoid:

  • using prayer ministry as a time to give counsel or advice
  • getting out of your depth
  • laying hands in a way that is distracting or insensitive.
  • saying anything that could cause guilt or condemnation.

Chapter 14: Turning the Church Inside-Out

  • we must lose the in-house mentality and turn outward in a radical way, to go out into the streets like Pope Francis says, with the good news of Christ, reach out to others with faith and boldness in Jesus’ ability to heal.
  • We must give the Lord permission to do all that he desires to do in us, to lay everything on the altar – the limits we place on what the Lord can ask of us, our sense of inadequacy, our restricted ideas of what God can and cannot do, our fears about how others will react to us – and trust in God’s love.

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