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There’s a lot in the Scriptures for today about idols or “false gods,” both in Psalm 115 (their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of men) and in chapter 14 of the Acts of the Apostles where Paul healed a man, lame from birth. In that case, Paul was clear that his power to heal came from “the living God” but the people refused to believe that he was not “a god in human form.”

I am sitting with these two impressions of long ago and thinking about how the world of “healing” works now. Besides our incredibly complex pharmaceutical system, there are still places in the world where inhabitants have their “kitchen gods” and others, and where Christian people pray to saints, named as intercessors for certain things (most commonly St. Anthony to find lost articles). I can say that there is a difference in prayers to saints and praying to “the living God” and that the distinction is clear to me – but is it always? Are there not people who attribute a measure of divinity to those whose power seems “super-human,” especially in situations of physical healing?

How do we explain these things? And is there not an element of faith necessary in the exchange of those involved in such a healing – between the healer and the one healed, I mean? Could that faith be generated by trust in “the living God” transmitted through a human being? Does the quality of the healing have anything to do with the humility of the healer – e.g. giving the glory to God rather than to his/her own power? In addition, shouldn’t we be looking more closely at the relationship between our physical, psycho-emotional and spiritual selves as we live each day? Physician, heal thyself, the adage from the gospel of Luke, might merit some reflection.

No definitive answers here as it is all a matter of personal belief, religious training and life situation. This is just what happens when I face a day with the Scriptures in my lap…The likely value for me is to ask myself all the above questions and consider alternatives so that when I am asked about my beliefs I have something to say.

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