‘Healings’ – Canon Dr Richard Lindley

September 9, 2021

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EUCHARIST, 01.09.21, 12.00, Luke 4.38-end

For Jesus, a cosmic battle was underway. His mission? To bring the good news of God’s love. His method? To demonstrate God’s power over evil in the form of mental and physical sickness. He rebuked the fever his mother-in-law was suffering, and the fever immediately departed. He then healed many more, including at least some we would class as suffering mental illness. And in these cases Luke tells us that indwelling demons actually shouted at Jesus.

We shall never know for sure what was going on. The contemporary culture was worlds away from ours. Illness, particularly mental illness, was attributed to demons, the devil, a cosmic power that had to be defeated. There weren’t the advances in medical and psychiatric treatment that we are used to.

Coronavirus has brought home to us the almost cosmic power of infection, an epidemic, a pandemic. Sometimes, the language of politicians and their advisers has made it sound as if covid actually is like a demon, a personality, to be out-run, defeated by stealth and cunning. What would Jesus have made of it, I wonder? How would he have reacted?

I really don’t know, and it’s not much good speculating. Because the culture, the underlying beliefs and expectations of the people were so different from ours. Was it all psychological? We really don’t know.

What we do know from these stories, though, is that Jesus is on our side. The love of God is stronger than sickness and all evil. God’s love is demonstrated now by those who devised the vaccines to defeat covid, by the hospital and community staff who care for us when we are physically or mentally sick.

When we have to live with illness or other miseries, it is hard, so hard. But God is still with us if we can find him again. St Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans:

If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? . . .  Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, of peril , or sword? . . .  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us form the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.