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DEAR FATHER | Spiritual healing begins when a soul says to God: ‘Even if I sin, I am yours’

I hear the phrase ‘spiritual healing’ often, but I have no idea what this means. Can you define it?

What is healing? The restoration of health and wholeness, but with the addition of wisdom. “Health,” to those who have never been ill, is functional: “All is working well. I can do as I please.”

But to those who have been ill — physically, emotionally or spiritually — “health” is life itself. It is the “welcome home” of the family. It is the teary-eyed smile of Mary Magdalene three days after Good Friday. Health is the empty tomb. Healing is not merely going back to wholeness. It is an entrance into a new kingdom. Body, emotions, relationships, memories — every woundable facet of human life — is a pathway in.

“But you, God, are good and true, slow to anger and governing all with mercy. For even if we sin, we are yours and know your might. But we will not sin, for we belong to you” (Wisdom 15:1-2). Sin is the ultimate illness of the human race. Physical sicknesses, such as cancer, COVID or the common cold, are symptoms of a far greater sickness — the sickness of the human spirit living in isolation. Every human heart separated from communion with God suffers this fundamental illness.

Spiritual healing begins when a soul says to God: “Even if I sin, I am yours.” Just as the sun does not cease to shine when our eyes are blindfolded, so too we do not cease to belong to God when we sin. Even a soul that has committed the most vile and disgusting sins still belongs to God. It is painful to allow Him to see our sin and how we suffer isolation. Many people self-punish, thinking, “He cannot bear to look at me, because I cannot bear to look at myself.” Yet He does see you. Repentance is not the process of convincing God to take us back. It is humbling ourselves to realize: “All this time I’ve refused His mercy, yet He has continued to love me.” Other people make peace with mediocrity and never repent of the myriad, small ways they offend God, in which case healing remains likewise unintelligible.

Once God’s mercy is embraced, the soul begins to say to God: “But I will not sin, for I belong to you.” We hate sin, not because we dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but because God is all good and worthy of all our love. It is not until the next life that we will truly understand the meaning of this simple sentence: “I belong to God.” Yet, insofar as we begin to realize this truth deep within our heart, we will no longer wonder what “spiritual healing” means.

Father Charlie Archer is associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood.

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