A man with a ‘withered” hand comes to Jesus, seeking healing and wholeness (Mark 3:1-6). We don’t know what his ailment really was (could it have been arthritis or some form of paralysis or nerve damage), but it had changed his life for the worse and limited his opportunities. His ailment was not life-threatening, but it was life-diminishing. Jesus’ counsel is simple, “Come forward…stretch out your hand.” And, this man is cured, not just physically but spiritually. He is restored to wholeness physically, spiritually, and socially.
Well, you think that the religious people would be pleased. But, alas, it was Sabbath day, and some of the religious leaders became angry. Healing, according to their beliefs, could only occur at certain times and places. And, the Sabbath was the wrong time and place.
Jesus doesn’t challenge the legitimacy of his faith tradition. God is present in the Jewish tradition now, just as God inspired the Jewish people in the first century. Anti-Judaism is incompatible with Christian faith. But, Jesus challenges religious beliefs that limit God’s healing to certain times, places, and persons. God’s vision of abundant life embraces all creation. The omnipresent God is also the omni-active God, and all of God’s actions are ultimately aimed at healing, wholeness, and reconciliation, not only for humans but for all creation.
In the spirit of this passage, I invite you to look for healing encounters wherever you go. You can begin by simply “blessing” the people you meet, both intentionally and randomly throughout the day. You can pray for the people you meet and those whose needs are brought to your attention. (As I write this, I am praying in response to a Facebook friend from North Carolina, who alerted me to a newborn who is having surgery today.) Let your life be one ceaseless opportunity for blessing. You will be healed in mind and spirit, and your prayers will change the environment, if not the cells and souls of those around you.
I bless everyone I meet.
Every situation provides an opportunity for healing and wholeness.
God speaks to me in every encounter.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, healing companion, retreat leader and lecturer, and author of nineteen books, including Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living; God’s Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus; and Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry. He has taught at Georgetown University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is currently theologian in residence at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His most recent book Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed will be released in May 2011. He can be reached for lectures, seminars, and retreats at firstname.lastname@example.org