Meditation, Prayer and Healing

Most Christians of every denomination think of Jesus as a healer. He prayed for people, spoke comforting words to the afflicted and touched the wounded. He raised people from the dead. We cannot be sure how Jesus understood the results of his healing ministry, but we can guess that his goal was not to merely take away peoples' pain or all of their mortal limitations. Most often it seems that what Jesus wants people to get in a healing is eternal life. A healed person is a converted one, a person who realizes a new personal identity as one who comes from God and is going to God. Such a person knows that he or she lives a limited, chronologically circumscribed life, and yet one also feels oneself to be standing in a place of love, blessedness, freedom and healing that is timeless. In Jesus's mind, such a person refocuses his or her life to love God and others in unselfish ways. St. Paul would call such a state of consciousness the mind of Christ--something that we already have, if we but turn to God in each moment. This much seems clear.

What might it mean for Christians on the contemplative path to be healed. Most of us would say that we want to be healed in body, mind and spirit, but how exactly is a healed body, mind or spirit different from a wounded one? It has been said that a cure is different from a healing in that a cure removes all pain and while a healing may not. Another important distinction can be made between pain and suffering. Pain usually refers to the actual physical sensation of discomfort, but suffering often adds an emotional and cognitive dimension. Does the contemplative Christian path offer a life without pain and suffering? We think not. We alert the reader to these nuances of the word healing only to acknowledge the complexity of the word and to confess that what we are about to say is intended to be only one offering to a conversation that we hope will grow.

images © Robert Jonas