by Ken Rolheiser
Healing and touching the body of Christ

    Erik Fitzgerald, a young pastor and father to be, lost his wife and their unborn son when the driver of another car fell asleep at the wheel after working a long shift as an EMT. Amongst the pain and grief, Erik was overcome with compassion for the young man, Matthew Swatzell, responsible for taking the lives of his family.
    Faced with the decision in the case against Matthew whether to push for the maximum penalty or opt for a lesser charge, Erik chose the lesser charge to demonstrate God’s forgiveness and love. In a chance meeting with Matthew in a store, Erik reached out to him in an embrace, and they began to talk. 
    The two developed a deep friendship despite the tragic circumstances. This was an unbelievable demonstration of forgiveness and complete restoration that only God can facilitate.  

I think every Christian is called to the ministry of healing, the ministry of touch, the ministry of presence. When we can do that for one another, we will heal each other. We will heal this world. We will heal the Body of Christ.

The Resurrection of Jesus makes all this possible! It shows us that Jesus has power over sin and death. We have power over sin and death. We can leave the old life of sin, of unforgiveness and grudges. Love is stronger than death and sin. We can be “dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

Father Brendan McGuire shares a meditative experience he had some eight years ago visiting the place of Christ’s Crucifixion. In a discursive meditation McGuire imagined himself in the praetorium seeing the body of the scourged and flogged Jesus. He was face down, covered with wounds.

“I was so in shock, I ran to him and knelt down. I put my hands on him and said, ‘Oh Jesus, what have they done to you?’ And as I put my hand on him, he writhed in pain, and jarred backwards. I realized that I had now hurt him more as I tried to help. 

“Then he heard my voice. He pulled himself up and rolled back over on his other side with great pain and propped himself up. Adding to my shock, he was covered with welts and scars on the front of his body too. Not a single inch to be seen that was unscarred.

“I’m thinking, how could they do this to a human. Why would they do this to you, Lord? Just then, I saw a space just above his chest that had no open wound. So, I put my hand right there and my hand on his hand. He smiled gently and then he was comforted.

“It was good for him, and it was good for me to be able to help. Then he leans up and says, ‘Brendan, in your ministry, when you reach out to help people, don’t touch their wounds. Search for the place they have no wounds and touch them there because there you will heal.’”

We are called to look for that one space in a person’s heart; one space in a person’s life to try and touch them there so that we can bring healing to one another, McGuire says. When we can do that for one another, we will heal each other. We will heal this world. We will heal the Body of Christ, says McGuire.

(575 words)