Bible Study group, Watford, April 7th 2013. Matthew 9:35 – 10:15
‘35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. ... ‘ King James Version
Person 1: “So – he went about teaching, preaching and healing.”
Person 2: “It’s the healing that’s the problem.”
We’ve been working our way through Matthew’s gospel since somewhen in the middle of last year, a small chunk at a time, twice a month before Meeting for Worship on Sunday morning. Every time we come to a story about healing (and there sure are a lot of them) we have much the same discussion. How can we believe them, should we even try, are they meant to be true, or metaphorical, or was it just what a prophet was expected to do, what does modern medical knowledge tell us, how does this relate to our experience?
I struggle again with the gap between my intellect and my actions. I learnt, as a child, at Sunday school, to doubt the literal truth, to believe that science could now explain it all. As an adult with an illness (myalgic encephalomyelitis) for which there is no medical treatment I had complementary therapies of several kinds. This helped me cope, and sometimes eased my pain a lot. I became increasingly interested, and, somewhat later, received a Reiki attunement. If asked, I will lay my hands on someone and expect healing energy to flow through me to them. And it apparently does. My head still has some doubts, my hands don’t hesitate.
‘Are you open to the healing power of God’s love?’ asks the second of the advices and queries. I hope so. In the sense that healing means becoming whole, perhaps even becoming holy, rather than necessarily the healing of physical ills. How much healing am I willing or able to accept? How open am I to God’s love?
A few years ago the bible study group was reading Mark’s gospel. We read Mark 1: 29-31:
‘On leaving the synagogue, he (Jesus) went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.’
Having sat with this for a while, with my thoughts and anxieties about healing and about what was left unsaid, trying to relate my personal experience to a character in the story, I eventually wrote:
They burst into the house, all talking at once. Something had happened to excite them. The noise of their voices was agony in my head, I wished they’d gone some place else. I was so hot, so tired, I ached everywhere and the least sound felt like a giant bell in my head.
Then he came into my room, took my hand, and said ‘Get up Mary, all is well’.
And all was well with me, the pain was gone, the fever was gone, the exhaustion was gone.
I rose from my bed, washed my face and hands, pulled on a clean shift and went to find them food and drink.