Faith making whole

Christ continually preaches faith as a kind of power. Sometimes, but by no means all the time, the accounts of the power of faith read like we now call placebo cures, like the story of the widow touching the hem of his garment (Mt. 9: 20) the curing of the blind men in Mt. 9: 29 or Lk 18: 42, or the curing of the ten lepers (Lk. 17: 19). In all of these, Christ stresses that the power of the healing was from the faith of those healed.

I call these placebo cures not to give them a modernist explaining-away but as the first step toward imagining the actual presence of Christ. Everyone has some experience with a presence that has power to alleviate sorrows, like mothers kissing bruises. Most of our sorrows are at a level where the line between mental and physical causes are blurry, so that a dramatic-enough presence or change of events would make the pain disappear. But we have to extrapolate far beyond our normal experience of this sort of healing presence before hitting one that would be equal to Christ’s, even after conceding that he might have lived in a time that was more willing to allow for this sort of healing.

The healing presence is holiness, which we can only dependably make present at lower levels of resolution. We know how to make spaces and things holy by building them on the site of some epiphany, dividing them from the profane, requiring some sort of purification to enter them, singing music of certain kinds, etc. The success of pilgrimages shows that this sort of holiness is strong enough to have healing power.  That said, it’s persons that are holy simpliciter, and we have a harder time delivering these to the world.

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