We may understand medicine like never before, but we don’t understand Christ’s healing. Healing itself comes primarily from God through love.
PUBLISHED ONAug 2021
On 16 December 1997, I had gone to bed perfectly healthy, but when I woke up at midnight I felt sick. Despite several spells in the hospital, innumerable tests and scopes, doctors were baffled. Since I was also displaying psychological symptoms, my psychologist suggested some residential care. Despite all the medical and psychological interventions, I was none the better. All I knew was that “a long sickness mocks the doctor.” (Sirach 10:10) When a sickness is taking a long time to heal, a person can sink into either of two dispositions: discouragement and hopelessness or determination to overcome the sickness.
When I returned to South Africa two years later, Fr. Eugene Clarkson, MSC, invited me to be prayed over by one of his Catholic charismatic friends. I neither objected nor held out much hope. Enita prayed quietly and intently over me. After 50 minutes, she stopped and said “Fr. Joseph, you have been cursed by witchcraft!” She then prayed a prayer of deliverance over me and I felt a dark and heavy spirit lift off me, leaving me with a deep joy. That simple prayer of faith (James 5: 13–16) did what doctors could not do. Though I was displaying medical and psychological symptoms, my sickness was neither physical nor psychological but demonic—and no medical tool can diagnose a curse. It was a lesson I needed to learn for my future healing ministry. When the root cause of the illness is not addressed, a person cannot fully heal.
Understanding Human Person
1 Thessalonians 5: 23 contains information about the essence of the human person. According to St. Paul, the human person is constituted by spirit, soul and body. Spirit, soul and body are not three separate ‘parts’ of a person but three interwoven ‘dimensions’ constituting a single person. The English Standard Version comes closest to the original Greek:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit (pneuma) and soul (psychē) and body (sōma) be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 23 ESV)
Now why is this text important for healing? To understand Christian healing, you first have to get an accurate understanding of the human person.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#365) is brilliant:
“The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the ‘form’ of the body: that is, it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.”
The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. Although St. Paul distinguishes the body from soul and spirit (1 Thes 5: 3), “this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul”. Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity.
Let’s apply this to sickness: A sickness originating in one dimension (spirit), can infect or leak into another dimension (body). For example, when a person holds onto the poison of hatred (in the spirit dimension), it will eventually leak into the body and break out in sickness.
“Do You Want To Be Well Again?”
One Sabbath morning, Jesus came into the healing centre called Bethesda. (John 5: 1–14) It was full of sick people but Jesus sought out only one paralyzed man who had been sick for 38 years. Leaning over him, Jesus asked the most peculiar question in all medical history: “Do you want to be well again?” Why on earth would anyone ask such a silly question? It would take me ten more years in the healing ministry before I finally grasped what Jesus meant by that question.
The man wanted to be healed of his physical paralysis, BUT did he also want his sin-crippled spirit healed? To want the healing of our body without the healing of our sick spirit is not Jesus’ idea of healing. A medical doctor is content to heal your heart disease, but Jesus (the Divine doctor) also wants the healing of your spiritual heart. When Jesus heard the people complain that He was eating with sinners, He replied: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick… For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 12) Jesus extends His concept of healing to include the healing of sin. Whenever sick people were brought to Jesus for healing, He always began with healing their spirit by forgiving their sin. (Mark 2: 5) This was Jesus’ advice to the Pharisees: “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Mt 23: 26) For this reason, confessions are held before or during the healing.
Unlike a snake, we were not made to hold toxins in our bellies or emotions; the longer we hold them, the worse we’ll get. Many people want a healthy body in order to go back into sin, to use their body as “an unholy weapon fighting on the side of unrighteousness.” (Rom 6: 13)
In Jesus’ eyes, wanting only part of yourself healed amounts to not wanting to be healed at all. Wanting only our body healed, while leaving soul and spirit sick is to leave an even greater sickness untouched and unhealed! Healing a part is not wholeness, for we do not let go of the source of our sickness, and that amounts to a pathological sickness itself.
The bottom line is this: if you only want your physical heart healed, but not the cancer of hatred in your heart, then in the eyes of Jesus, you don’t really want to be well again!
Is God Healing Through The Power Of Faith?
Certainly! Every time a penitent—dead in mortal sin—is forgiven in the sacrament of penance, they are resurrected.
The biggest challenge in Africa regarding healing through faith is that we love faith healers, prophets, and spirit mediums. Some people who profess their faith in Jesus also profess their faith in the healing of prophets, brujas and sangomas. Many South Africans have a hard time letting go of their spirit mediums and placing their complete trust in Jesus. Priests and religious Sisters who encourage the flock of Christ to seek help from such mediums are leading them to follow the Path of Balaam (2 Peter 2: 15). Instead of guiding the flock away from the wolf, these people encourage the sheep to mix what can’t be mixed. When a person trusts his spirit medium for healing, God pulls back (Jeremiah 17: 5), “so that you should not say, ‘my idol was the one that performed them.’” (Isaiah 48: 5)
Following James 5: 13–18, we lay hands on the sick (Mark 16: 18) and anoint them with oil (James 5: 14). We ask the sick persons how they feel. If they are not healed, we continue to pray. If their healing is blocked, we check to see if they are harboring any of the Big 5 blockages—hatred, unforgiveness, cursing, witchcraft, and unconfessed sin—respectfully. We avoid burdening people by telling them that they are not getting healed because of their lack of faith. If they are not getting well, we continue to pray for them and encourage them to sit with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament after their healing blessing. There, they receive many blessings and healings.
What Is Deliverance Ministry?
Jesus best describes deliverance ministry as such: “Who among you, if he has a sheep and it falls into a hole, will not take hold of it and pull it out, even on the Sabbath.” (Mt 12: 11) Deliverance is “to take hold of someone who has become demonised and pull him out of a spiritual hole.” Deliverance is required when an aspect of the human personality has become enslaved, stuck, or cursed by an evil spirit. Demonisation occurs when we choose to move from under the provision of God to consult spirit mediums or false prophets. So, what’s so bad about consulting spirits? Consulting opens a spiritual door to the occult (Jer 17: 5), which will not close of its own accord, leaving you indebted to Satan. It has to be confessed and all agreements made with mediums must then be broken.
Most deliverance ministry occur due to cursing. If I have been cursed, first check if I have consented to return the curse to sender. If so, I must repent of it in order to qualify for my own deliverance (Rom 12: 14; 1 Pt 3: 9).
We may understand medicine like never before, but we don’t understand Christ’s healing. Healing comes from God through love. (Sirach 38: 2) The best place to start your healing journey is confession. In fact, up to 80% of your healing comes from that loving encounter with Jesus.