Healing Our Hearts
Leprosy, blindness, hemorrhaging, deafness, withered limbs. These are ailments we see plaguing individuals in the Gospel of Mark. Their characteristics of disfigurement of the face and skin, the inability to see, hear, or speak, uncontrollable bleeding, and shriveled arms and legs, are all terrible, horrendous maladies that ostracize people from society. Everyone is susceptible to disease, even you and I. Disease is what keeps us human. It shows our physical limitations and our vitality degradations. It is what marks us as a fallen race. Disease, in the book of Mark, is not only a literal disfigurement, but a figurative one as well. Illness is a reminder of the fall of Adam and Eve, and of our eternal sin. Our hearts are diseased, even plagued, by our evil intentions. Over time, the evil stirring in our hearts can cause us to have our own demons, potentially becoming physical manifestations such as addictions to wrong doing. But through God’s grace, and our own faith in Him, we can receive redemption and thus be whole and clean again.
Throughout his gospel, Mark points to the idea that evil, and thus sickness, comes from within a person; not from outside forces, but from the nature of our hearts. On the topic of clean and unclean food, Jesus states, “Nothing that goes into a man from the outside can make him unclean; it is the things that comes out of a man that make him unclean…. For it is within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge…” (119). Jesus is explaining to those at the synagogue that there is no clean or unclean food. In fact, it is highly juvenile to think so. It is from our hearts that evil arises, not from whether we consume supposed unclean animals like pigs or shrimp. However, this statement of Jesus’ does not simply apply to food; it also deals with all outside forces. When we see an attractive person of the opposite sex, it is our own desire and want for them that causes us to sin. Our interpretation of that person, the outside stimulus, is what causes us to sin, not the stimulus itself. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we have had original sin breed in us. The original sin in our hearts is what predisposes us to sin; just like certain genes predispose individuals to certain eye colors. We cannot choose to have a sinful nature, just as we cannot choose to have blue eyes. Our sickness, maladies, and demons come from the state of our hearts. The more vial and repulsive our hearts are from our sins, the more plagued we become from the emergence and churning of the evil inside of us. It is something that we cannot help and something that we cannot redeem on our own; only through Christ our Lord, and our faith in him, are we able to redeem our sins.
Through Jesus’ Immaculate Conception, virgin birth, and blameless death, the curse of original sin, placed on Adam and Eve’s offspring in Genesis three, has been broken. No longer are we plagued to roam in misery all of our lives, but are now offered the chance at redemption. However, this redemption comes at a price, faith. In chapter five of the Gospel of Mark, we hear the story of a woman who has been suffering a hemorrhage for twelve, agonizing years. Despite her physical impairment, she made her way through the crowd to touch Jesus’ robe. Rather than those who ask if Jesus has the power to heal them, or blatantly doubt his abilities, the woman pursues Jesus, certain that his touch will heal her. After she touches his robe and is healed, she begins to tremble at the pure awesomeness of God, and falls prostrate at his feet, amazed and overwhelmed at her healing. Like the hemorrhage stricken woman who crawls and clambers her way through the crowd with the mindset of being well again, “If I can touch even his clothes… I shall be well again” (114), so must we struggle to God in our need with incredible faith in wellness. For as Jesus says to the woman once he feels his power surge from him, “My daughter… your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint” (115). Through faith, the bleeding woman, as well as the leper, deaf/mute, blind, cripple, and others suffering throughout the Book of Mark, were restored to perfect health.
In addition, Jesus heals a demoniac who is suffering from a “deaf and dumb” spirit, which is interesting since a demon is causing someone to be physically impaired. It seems as though Mark is saying that we all have our own demons. Our hearts are tainted, filthy, and possessed by sin. Through our sickness and possession of sin, we are all impaired and damaged. After healing the possessed boy, Jesus says, “Everything is possible for anyone who has faith” (123). Parts of us are broken, hurt, and tarnished, but through immense faith in God and his redemption of us, those ailments are removed, those demons driven out.
Like the bleeding woman and the demoniac, we can receive Christ’s blessing and healing; however, cleansing can only be obtained through faith in God. For example, while Jesus is in Nazareth, teaching the scribes in the synagogue, he realizes that he “could work no miracle there… He was amazed at their lack of faith” (115). In order to receive healing, we must have faith in our almighty Lord. We have all done some rather atrocious things throughout our lives. I remember a time in my adolescence when I told my mother that I hated her and thus drove her to tears. I was so hurt and full of self-loathing at what I had done. Yet I was able to be forgiven through my faith and belief that, even if my mother couldn’t forgive me, God could. And He did. Obtaining redemption for our sins is not an easy task; we must have complete trust in God and His limitless love and healing capabilities in order for it to occur.
As Jesus says in response to Pharisee scribes who scorn him for eating with an unfavorable crowd, “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick” (109). We are the ones who need healing; us who are sick, rotting, and decaying on the inside from our sins. Us who are under the spell of original sin; possessed by our evil intentions and the vicious, destructive nature of our hearts. Do not be ashamed to come to God in your desperation for redemption; he readily accepts us even when we are the most repulsive. God can do anything for those who believe. If he can make the lame walk and the blind see, then he can definitely fix our hearts, no matter how plagued or deformed they are.