"New Evangelization and Healing"
By Bob Canton, ICCRS Council Member
What is Evangelization? The glossary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines Evangelization as" the proclamation of Christ and His Gospel by word and the testimony of life in fulfillment of Christ's demands."
Pope Paul V1, in his Apostolic Exhortation , Evangelii Nuntiandi, or 'On Evangelization in the Modern World," says " Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize."
Blessed Pope John Paul II echoed this call by his predecessor by penning down an encycIical entitled,"Redemptoris Missio" or "Mission of the Redeemer." He states, " God is opening before the Church the horizon of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ , no institution of the Church can avoid the supreme duty; to proclaim Christ to all peoples."
When he discussed about new evangelization , Blessed Pope John Paul II was referring to a proclamation of the Good News which is and must always be new; "new in its ardor, new in its methods, and expression." The Pope was calling for a "new ardor," a new zeal, a new intensity and enthusiasm, a new loyalty to Christ."
Why Do We Need the New Evangelization? The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops(USCCB) states, "The New Evangelization offers hope. Jesus grants all people rest and comfort from this world's burdens(Matt. 11:28) by offering us the hope of salvation and eternal life. Through the "re-proposing" of the Gospel, the Church seeks to comfort all those who are burdened. The New Evangelization offers the gift of faith, hope, love, and the new life in Christ."
In his Apostolic Letter, "Porta Fidei," proclaiming a "Year of Faith" which begins Oct. 11, 2012, Pope Benedict XV1 also mentions the need for the New Evangelization. He says, "It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith."
Now, where does Healing Come In, you may ask. This was what Pope Paul V1 also says in Evangelii Nuntiandi, "But Christ also carries out this proclamation by innumerable signs which amaze the crowds and at the same time draw them to Him in order to see Him, listen to Him and allow themselves to be transformed by Him; the sick are cured, water is changed into wine, bread is multiplied, the dead come back to life. And among all these signs, there is the one which He attaches great importance: the humble and the poor are evangelized."
Healing is definitely Good News. It is undoubtedly one of the best tools for evangelization. Jesus is the Master Healer and He had a unique method of evangelism. He would preach the gospel and then heal the sick and cast out demons to confirm His message. His first instructions to His disciples were to preach and heal. In Mat. 10: 7-8, Jesus says to His disciples, "As you go, make this proclamation: "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons."
Pope Benedict XV1, in his book "Jesus of Nazareth," states that "Healing is an essential dimension of the apostolic mission and of Christian faith in general. It can even be said that Christianity is a "therapeutic religion, a religion of healing. When understood at a sufficiently deep level, this expresses the entire content of redemption. "
In my humble capacity as a lay person with a Healing ministry, I had the privilege to preach and minister in over 40 countries so far including non-Christian countries such as South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and in United Arab Emirates and I had witnessed the lame walking, the deaf hearing, the blind seeing, tumors and abnormal growths disappearing, and those oppressed by evil spirits being set free by the Lord Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, many have received spiritual healing which for me, is the most important healing of all. The booklet, Guidelines On Prayers for Healing, which was published by the Vatican-based International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services(ICCRS) describes "spiritual healing" as "the healing from sin" which restores a person to a relationship with God.
Certainly, healing is one of the most effective answers to the challenges posed by Blessed John Pope Paul II; "To go out to the deep for a catch," a challenge which he issued to the faithful in his Apostolic Letter, "Novo Millennio Ineunte ," and to his call "to commit all the Church's energies to New Evangelization," as contained in his encyclical, "Redemptoris Missio."
In order for us to be more effective vessels for God's healing power, certain principles are necessary as our guide. The acronym for these principles is: "LOOK FAR."
- Live in love. This is what St. Paul says to the Ephesians in Eph.5:2. If we want the healing power of God to flow through us, first of all, we must be passionate lovers of God, and lovers of the person next to us. If we walk in Christ's love, we walk in the power of God. To live in love means putting Jesus at the very center of our lives, at the very core of our existence. Jesus heals because of His love and compassion for His people. In Mat. 14:14, we read, "When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, and He cured their sick."
- Obedience to the Lord. In I Sam. 15:22, the Lord says, "Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission that the fat of rams." When we totally obey the Lord and His words and the promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit, we will witness the glory of God, healings and miracles will follow us. Two months ago, while ministering healing in Jakarta, Indonesia attended by thousands, many came in wheelchairs. I "heard" the voice of the Lord in my heart saying, "My son, command those in wheelchairs to stand and walk in my Name." The moment I obeyed His commands, we witnessed many lame people came out of the wheelchairs and started walking normally. There was a great manifestation of God's glory in that place. The Lord says is Ex. 19:5, "Therefore, If you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people, though all the earth is mine."
- Openness to the Holy Spirit's Power. "And do not get drunk on wine in which lies debauchery but be filled with the Holy Spirit."-Eph.5:18. When Jesus was still walking on this earth, He was a Miracle Worker par excellence because He was filled with the Holy Spirit, anointed by the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit and ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was truly God and truly man. But in His humanity, He had to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to do His works. Jesus says, "Amen, amen, I say to you, a Son cannot do anything on His own, but only what He sees His Father doing; for what He does, His Son will do also. For the Father loves His Son and shows Him everything that He Himself does, and He will show Him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed."--Jn.5:19-20. The only way He could have "seen" and could have "done" what the Father was doing was through the power of the Holy Spirit. All His healings as well as His preachings and teachings were done under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
- Kingdom living. In Mark 1:15, Jesus says, "The Kingdom of God is at hand." The Kingdom of God is here and now. Kingdom living means living a life of holiness and purity. The Lord says in Eccl.9:8, "At all times, let your garments be white." "Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy." - Lev.19:2. Holiness means to stand blameless in the sight of God. Blessed John Paul II states in his apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Inuente, his master plan for the new millennium, a "program for all times", "that holiness is not only a state but a task, whereby Christians should strive for a full Christian life, imitating Christ, the Son of God, who gave his life for God and for his neighbor."
- "Faith, according to Heb. II:1, "is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." Jesus says in the Book of John 14:12, "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." I believe that one of the reasons why healings and miracles are not manifested in the lives of many Christians is lack of faith; faith in Jesus, faith in His words and power. Jesus says, "Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."-Mat. 17:20. Pope Benedict XVI, in his Apostolic Letter, "Porta Fidie," invites Catholics to actively engage on behalf of the New Evangelization to "rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith."
- "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish. If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him." -Mat. 7: 7-11. Clearly, these words of Jesus remind us to be persistent and to persevere in our prayers. We should not give up too easily if we do not perceive immediate results to our prayers. Healing comes as an answer to prayer.
Receive the Lord's Healing promises with enthusiasm and expectant faith. "Bless the Lord, all my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God,
who pardons all your sins, heals all your ills,"- Psalm 103:2-3; "For I will restore you to health; of your wounds I will heal you, says
the Lord."-Jer. 30:17; "In their distress they cried to the Lord, who saved them in their peril, sent forth the word to heal them, snatched
them from their grave." -Psalm 107:19-20.
These are but few passages of God's Healing promises found in the Scriptures. The Catechisms of the Catholic Church #1503, states, "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. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins; he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of. His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: "I was sick and you visited me." His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them."