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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Mk 1/29-39
Catholic Homilies
February 9th, 2003

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Mk 1/29-39


There is considerable debate about whether the people whom Jesus healed were really possessed by the devil or were mentally disturbed. The debate is utterly besides the point. These individuals were deeply troubled and Jesus healed them. Jesus came to heal both body and soul. Most scripture scholars now agree that miracles were an important part of Jesus's ministry and of the memory of that ministry in the early church. We simply cannot abandon them to please those who say miracles are impossible. The precise explanation of how these healings were accomplished is another matter and perhaps one that is also besides the point. Jesus did not work miracles to prove anything. Rather they were signs that God's healing love is at work in the world.

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Once upon a time there were some doctors who were discussing whether prayer helped their patients. Does it do any good, they asked, for people to pray for those who are sick. One group said it helps those who pray to feel that they're doing something for the sick person. But it really doesn't help the sick person at all. The other group said that they had the impression that prayer really had a positive effect on sick people. The first group said that's scientifically impossible. So they decided to try a "double blind" experiment on those who were recover from heart problems. They would have prayers said for some and not for the others to see what happened. The doctors didn't know who was chosen to be prayed for and the subjects of the prayers didn't know either. However a list of first names were given to those who were to do the praying. So neither the prayers or the prayees or the researchers know had been chosen to be the target of prayer. What happened? Those for whom prayers were said recovered more quickly. See said those who had argued that prayer worked, there's more things under heaven than science dreams of. (This is a true story about research which is reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, October 25/1999.)

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See said those who had argued that prayer worked, there's more things under heaven than science dreams of
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