“Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”
Then they set out and went from village to village
proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.”
Francis MacNutt, Ph.D. in his book ‘Healing’ writes “The Saving Mission of Jesus Today. It follows, then, that unless we hold that healing was only meant for the early Christian community as a special grace to get the church established, the healing characteristic of the early church should somehow continue happening on our day. We still have the sick with us, and we are still standing in the need of being made whole. All around us in the pews on Sunday morning we see broken people. And often those in the pulpit or at the altar are broken, too. Since the church is made up of people, we still need healing as much as ever.
Significantly, St Augustine in his early writing claimed that healing had ceased in the Church and was no longer necessary. But experience in his own life changed his mind. Notably, in his own diocese nearly seventy attested miracles took place in two year’s time. In 427, just three years before he died, Augustine, in his book of Retractions, took back what he had said in his early writing (De Vera Religione) about the age of miracles being past, and described miraculous cures which he had seen, dramatic enough to change his mind.”
Francis MacNutt in another book ‘The Nearly Perfect Crime How the Church Almost Killed the Ministry of Healing’ writes “Before long, though he discovered that a large number of miracles were taking place at the shrine. One example that amazed Augustine happened when a brother and sister, who both suffered from convulsive seizures, came to Augustine’s cathedral (in Hippo, North Africa) on Easter, 424. Before the celebration of the service, the young man got hold of a relic of St. Stephen. While Augustine was still getting vested in his robes, the young man feel down as if dead. When he rose up, he found that he was healed. He had dinner with Augustine and they talked about what happened. Three days later Augustine read the brother’s testimony in church, while both the brother and his sister were standing up in front of the congregation. He now seemed quite normal, but his sister was trembling convulsively. Then, when Augustine started preaching, she slipped off to the shrine to pray. Exactly the same thing that had happened to her brother happened to her: She was healed and came back to interrupt Augustine’s sermon with loud cries. ”
Augustine wrote “I realized how many miracles were occurring in our own day and which were so like the miracles of old and how also how wrong it would be to allow the memory of these marvels of divine power to perish from among our people. It is only two years ago that the keeping of records was begun here in Hippo, and already, at this writing, we have nearly seventy attested miracles.”
Francis writes, “As you can see, Augustine changed from ‘miracles have mostly ceased’ to a position where he admitted that he was wrong and that miracles were still a common occurrence. And yet he himself still did not pray for the sick. he continued to turn the healing ministry over to the saints by sending the sick off to their shrines. thereby avoiding the risks of personally praying for the sick.
But then, shortly before he died, Augustine was persuaded to put himself on the line and actually pray for a sick person. It all began when he prayed for several demoniacs who were freed. Then he was lead to take a greater risk when a friend pleaded with him to heal a sick relative, by laying hands on him. By then Augustine was suffering from his own last illness, so he replied that if he felt that he had any such ability, he would certainly have prayed for himself, but that did not convince his friend, who replied that he had a vision in his sleep in which he heard the words, ‘Go to Bishop Augustine that he may lay his hands upon your sick relative, and he will be healed.’ This prophetic approach finally convinced Augustine that he should pray in person. When at last he laid his hands on the man, he was healed!”
Jesus gave the apostles the same power to heal that he had. At the end of the Gospel of Mark we read, “Believers will lay hands upon the sick and they will be healed.”
The Holy Spirit is once again that miracles and healing at the core of the Gospel. Pope Francis is telling us the same thing when we says “The Church is a field hospital.”