At Easter Thursday Mass, the first reading continues the post-Pentecost narrative of the first healing miracle of Peter and his subsequent preaching on the Risen Christ. The people responsible for assembling Scripture readings for the sick chose to focus on the restoration of movement for the beggar (cf. Acts 3:6-7) at the Beautiful Gate. In the subsequent verses (8-10), the man was found leaping, standing, walking, and jumping as he had never done in his life.
The follow-up to this reading finds the man “clinging” to the apostles. Is this a model for the early believers who were first exposed to the apostolic ministry? Perhaps so. The cured man isn’t the only person on the move in Jerusalem:
As the crippled man who had been cured
clung to Peter and John,
all the people hurried in amazement toward them
in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.”
Peter takes this opportunity to offer another public speech (through verse 26). For the purposes of pastoral care, the beginning only is given in the rite. With Peter, we connect the power of healing to the Paschal Mystery. That is: the saving act of Christ through his death and resurrection. This is the basis of faith for the ill or injured person:
When Peter saw this, he addressed the people,
“You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this,
and why do you look so intently at us
as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence,
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
And by faith in his name,
this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong,
and the faith that comes through it
has given him this perfect health,
in the presence of all of you.
The Church does not promise “perfect” healing, either through its rites or the ministry of believers. It can happen, but it isn’t always so. The chosen emphasis is on faith. Faith in Christ enables the transformation of the person, and a healing that is independent on the particular abilities of either those who pray or those who are involved with physical or mental health care.
Still, many people suffer debilitating conditions. When I think of that, it seems the reassurances of faith in Jesus come up empty. Easy enough for me to rely on the Lord. But a person without faith? It would seem they need more than an episode from twenty centuries ago. That said, many believers have drawn faith from this reassurance, despite not experiencing a healing in this life.
For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.