Healing Souls

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Tomorrow is St. Luke’s day. We know a little bit about Luke – he travelled with Paul on some of his journeys and Paul calls him the ‘dear doctor’. He also wrote a couple of the books in the bible… Luke, of course, and the Acts of the Apostles – the first hand story of the beginnings of the church.

It seems like Luke laid aside his medical work to follow a different calling. I have to admit to being a bit judgmental when I hear for people who have trained as doctors giving it all up – like Tim Kinnaird, who gave up paediatrics to open a Macaron shop in Norwich after winning Masterchef. It’s not for me to judge – and we did have one of his delicious macarons when we were there.

But Luke is different. I think that for him, moving out from being a doctor of medicine to telling the story of Jesus and the first Christians is a natural development. He sees Jesus bringing people a wider healing, a deeper healing. The word for to save in Greek – the language Luke used to write his gospel – is also the word for to heal. Both are to do with being made whole, being made new.

It’s interesting to see the stories Luke includes in his gospel that aren’t in the other gospels. The story about Zacchaeus – the small and unpopular tax collector. Jesus sees him in the tree, invites himself for a meal, and Zacchaeus then has a huge change of heart. He says he’ll repay everyone he’s swindled and give half his money to the poor. Jesus says ‘Truly, salvation has come to this house’ – or should that be ‘healing has come to this life’?

Then there’s the ‘Good Samaritan’ – the story Jesus tells about the man who is beaten up, left for dead, ignored by the important and religious people, and looked after by this ‘foreigner’ who tends his wounds and takes him to a place where he can recover. Luke has a particular awareness of those who pick up and gently care for those beaten up by life.

The other parable that only Luke includes is the parable of the two sons – the one who takes his father’s money, goes off and wastes it all, comes crawling back home and is welcomed with open arms – and the one whose lifestyle is beyond reproach but whose heart is hardened and in just as much need of healing. There is a healing which God offers us whenever we turn back to him – having hurt ourselves or others through the bad choices we have made.

Luke tells us that this wider and deeper healing is at the heart of what Jesus came to do – he sets it out right at the beginning of his ministry – bringing good news to the poor, healing the broken hearted, offering freedom and new vision… And then he describes how Jesus acts out this calling in many encounters he has with people in need of many sorts of healing.

As I get older, and have more of my life to look back on, I have a sense that one way of looking at it is as a journey of healing. Life wounds us – especially when we are young, before we’ve build up our defence mechanisms. It may take all of our lives – and more – to heal the hurts of our childhood – even though our parents did their best. And then there is a further healing that we need – to free us from the very defence mechanisms which we have built up – to soften us again so that we can more fully give and receive love.

Jesus still brings us with healing. This may be through some special time of prayer, it may be through the day by day care that we offer to each other as a healing community made up of broken people and it may be through our year by year inner journey into all the love and the life that God has for us.

You might like to think about the ways in which God has been working his healing in your life…

Loving Lord, we thank you for your gentle touch on our lives, and on our souls. Open us more and more deeply to your healing, your freedom and your love…

We think of those we know who are in need of healing, of whatever sort… Lord, we know that you know them and love them. May they become more aware of that love, and may they find strength and peace and the deepest healing….

Lord, you call us to work with you in your transforming love. May we be channels of your care – may we proclaim your good news with our lives, and may your saving love be known and shown among us…

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