This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:15)
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, “The kingdom of God is at hand for you.” (Luke 10:9)
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:4-6)
Do not be afraid; just have faith. (Mark 5:36)
More than once, Jesus told his followers that the Kingdom of God was near, or had come, or that they would know it was coming by certain signs (Mark 1:15, Luke 10:9). The trouble is, the human mind can so easily argue away such statements. This is especially true if our experience differs from what we’re told or if it just doesn’t make sense to our logical minds. But when the kingdom is demonstrated right before our eyes, we have no choice but to believe in the reality of the Kingdom of God in our midst.
Jesus’ compassion and love really shines out in the many miraculous events that took place in his ministry, as described in the Gospels. Moved with pity (Matthew 9:36), he showed great mercy toward people who were in distress and without hope. It’s not surprising, then, that Jesus’ miracles have frequently been called the good news made visible. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that ‘God has visited his people’ and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand” (CCC, 1503).
Every now and then, undeniable miracles do happen in the church today. But most of the time we would say that Jesus did greater things than we are doing—even though he said we would be the ones doing the greater things (John 14:12). If we were performing undeniable miracles on a regular basis, just as Jesus did, our churches would be growing and filled to overflowing!
What is Expectant Faith? Some healing televangelists would say that it is the kind of faith you need to “claim” your healing, i.e., “if you have enough faith, you will be healed.” I believe this is a poor definition, since it implies a faith in our own faith rather than trusting in God’s faithfulness, love, and compassion. It also adds an unreasonable burden on the person receiving the prayers. In his book, “The Practice of Healing Prayer,” Francis MacNutt says that expectant faith is not about believing that everyone we pray for will be healed, but more to do with trusting in God’s goodness and mercy. It means knowing that God loves the person for whom we are praying, and it means believing that he hears our prayers. Because of this we know even if the healing we have prayed for doesn’t occur, we still believe that God will respond to our prayers and touch the person in some way – this is expectant faith.
Day by day, God continues to work miracles to bring us to wholeness and deeper conversion. We may not understand why everyone is not healed when we pray. Still, while some are not healed, others are! Even if we haven’t experienced God miraculously healing, many of us know of wondrous deeds that he has done in our midst—perhaps a parishioner whose brain tumor inexplicably disappeared after prayer or a friend whose hearing improved dramatically just moments after she received the Eucharist or a family member who had a dramatic conversion to Christ before he died.
When Jesus came to Nazareth, he performed just a few small healings (Mark 6:5). There was too much doubt in the environment. Let’s not let that happen to us! Jesus said that “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). So, let’s believe in the power of prayer and be those laborers in the Lord’s harvest. Let’s pray for a new boldness and an increase in expectant faith in us and all Catholic men. Let’s pray for an increase in miracles and healing. And when we do see or read about a miracle, let’s treasure it!
Jesus wants us all to have confidence in his presence and in his power to heal, save, and transform. He wants to tell us the same thing he told Jairus: “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mark 5:36). And he wants each of us to grow in expectant faith – filled with a joyful hope!
“Heavenly Father, I trust in your great love for me and all your people. I ask you to unleash a wave of miracles and healings throughout your church through the prayers of your people. Touch the sick and the suffering, and restore them to wholeness and well-being. Lord Jesus, I ask for the grace to pray with expectant faith for my brothers and sisters who are hurting and in need of your healing touch. Holy Spirit, open my eyes to see the kingdom of God all around me. Help me to recognize your presence and your work in the people I meet, and to be responsive to people I encounter who are in need of prayer.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- The article states that “Jesus’ miracles have frequently been called the good news made visible.” This is consistent with the quote used from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that ‘God has visited his people’ and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand” (CCC, 1503). Why do you think miracles and healings are signs of God’s kingdom in our midst and “the good news made visible”?
- How would you describe your attitude when you hear of modern day miracles or miraculous healings? Do they increase your faith or do they increase your skepticism? Why?
- Have you ever experienced a miraculous answer to prayers through your own prayers? What was the impact of it on your own faith and your attitude towards personally praying for others?
- How does the article define expectant faith? Do you agree with this definition? If not, how would you define it?
- What steps can you take to grow in expectant faith?
- Take some time now to ask the Lord for an increase in miracles and healings in the Church through the prayers of his people. Ask him for the grace and courage to be willing to pray with expectant faith for others who are hurting and in need of healing. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.