According to the gospels, Christ was well-known for his ability to heal. Crowds of afflicted people flocked to him, and “he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mark 1:32-34). He is also described as having raised three people from the dead.
These miraculous accounts are presented as proof that he really was the Messiah that had been promised in the Old Testament. For example, when St John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was “the one who is to come”, he replied: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:1-5)
Christ’s healing miracles were not only signs; the gospels relate that they were also rooted in his deep compassion for other people. For example, when a leper approached him and asked him to heal him if he so chose, St Mark wrote: “Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ (Mark 1:41)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that “God has visited his people” and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins; he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of.”
It continues: “Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”[Matthew 8:16-17] But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover.”
Examples of people Christ healed are St Peter’s feverish mother-in-law, a blind man named Bartimaeus and ten men suffering from leprosy (Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 17:11-19). Those he exorcised include the daughter of a Canaanite woman, a demonised man in Capernaum and even St Mary Magdalene. (Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 4:31-37; Mark 16:9) The three people Christ raised from the dead were the daughter of Jairus, the widow of Nain’s son and his good friend, Lazarus (Matthew 9:18, 23-26; Luke 7:11-17; John 11:1-44).
This stained glass scene featuring people approaching Christ for healing is by the Hardmans studio and dates to 1928. The window was created in memorial of a Dr. John Kennedy, reflecting his life’s work of also healing the sick.
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Where to find this work of art
St Francis’ church, Ascot
Read the relevant passage