I recently had the pleasure of spending a day with parish and diocesan staff and volunteers at the KI Center in Green Bay. This gathering was a continuation of the discipleship seminars we have held the past few years. This year’s theme, “Jesus the Healer,” was chosen in part based on feedback from last year’s seminar, where attendees shared some of the pain and hurt they are experiencing. So, we invited Jesus the Healer to walk among us, to accompany us as we strive to bring souls to the Kingdom of God. After all, how can we be leaders who love Jesus and share his mission when we are weighed down by so much pain and brokenness?
We began by reflecting on the healing ministry of Jesus and how we can turn to our loving Father, through Jesus, to receive the healing our hearts so desperately desire. Leading us through this process were Fr. Matthias Thelen and Patrick Reis of Encounter Ministries, which exists to train and disciple Catholics to demonstrate the power and love of God through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Their mission is rooted in the belief that if we want the name of Jesus to spread, we need to participate in God’s power and miracles. As they shared, when we proclaim the truth of the Gospel and demonstrate it through signs and wonders, people come to faith.
Perhaps as you read this, you find yourself thinking that miracles and healings are a thing of the past, something Jesus could do because he was God, but not something that we can do. Maybe you’ve heard stories about miraculous healings today, but you’ve always felt that those are unique exceptions, and something only someone who is especially holy could bring about.
But this was the great news that Fr. Matthias and Patrick shared with us; as baptized Christians, each of us has received the grace to participate in these miracles. This means that each of us can be a source of healing to others when we open ourselves to what God wants to do for that person!
The beauty of this day was that we didn’t just talk about these things, we actually tried it. After receiving training in how we can pray for others who are in need of healing, in particular physical healings, we intentionally made time to ask God to heal people. And the results were incredible! Dozens of people came forward to share that after receiving prayers for various physical ailments, they began feeling less pain and, in some cases, no pain at all!
Now, not everyone who received prayers experienced a miraculous healing. We don’t know why God brings healing to some people immediately, while others must wait, and others never receive the healing they are seeking. As the speakers said, “It’s our job to pray, it’s God’s job to heal.” But we witnessed that God does bring healing to people, and we can be instruments of that healing!
Friends, there is so much brokenness in our world today, so much pain, so much anxiety, so much despair. We, the church, have an opportunity to do something about this, not because of who we are, but because of who God is. As your bishop, I believe being a source of healing for the world is one of our most important tasks as the church, which is why as part of the one by One capital campaign, we will be dedicating resources to train clergy and laity to serve those who are hurting and wounded. I look forward to the day when we have a corps of leaders who are equipped to bring God’s healing presence to each person they encounter. In the meantime, if you are in need of healing or are interested in being trained to pray with others for healing, I encourage you to contact your parish or our diocesan offices.
So, let us always remember that we have a Father who loves us deeply and wants us to experience that love. When we are attentive to what God is doing, we are able to share God’s love with others in miraculous ways. In doing so, we have the power to transform a world that is crying out for healing. May each of us invite the Holy Spirit into our lives to unleash the love that God has for the world!
Follow Bishop Ricken on Twitter at @BpDavidRicken.