Fr Kevin Neal
Every month or two someone calls in who has the gift of healing or knows someone else who has. They are usually quite earnest in their approach and they seem quite put out but by my declining of their offer.
When I first had a stroke they were most frequent with their offers and I would regularly let them pray over me. After all, I had prayed for others who needed it and I had seen those prayers answered. So what’s changed? Prayers can still be offered and thanks giving can still be returned. I’m quite sure prayers have, in fact, been answered many times over, especially in the early days. You know when a prayer is sincerely made: you can feel it go right through you.
When people say they are going to pray for a healing, I feel it’s now the wrong prayer. They want to pray for my arm and leg but I don’t really miss those anymore. Some folk go a little deeper and pray for the things inside you.
The trouble is, that’s only true up to a point. Sometimes I wonder what they are praying for. You see, I’ve never felt more healed in all my life. The body limps along and the brain has quite a bit missing but other parts, that you can’t see, are infinitely better.
Do they want to remove the little kids who smile and even laugh as they see me now? Do they want them to miss out? There’s a wonderful recognition that was never there before. Or the handicapped: they see someone who is no longer any threat and they love having you around. Will they have them return to their corners and hide?
And the fellow travellers who drive the small four-wheeled wonders like mine: they look at you and just know. They have paid the price of their so-called little peccadilloes and they are just happy to have mobility. I meet them on the footpath and one nod is all that it takes. Do I want them to go back to the land of non-recognition? Hardly.
Then there are the people who, without even knowing it, are kind with their actions, especially the young. I’m constantly surprised by the openness of teenagers. Perhaps they haven’t received their dose of adult cynicism yet. No matter what the group is, they will always give you room and they’ll say something kind.
There is a special place for those who help out at liturgy. With quietness they work behind the scenes to assist me, the priest. There’s no big deal – just quiet assistance. Without this help I wouldn’t be able to say Mass.
The hundreds who hold doors open and make an extra space. Are they to be forgotten? There is very little thought given to whether you’re a priest or not and male and female doesn’t get a thought. You need some extra assistance; they’re there, so you get it.
It’s wonderful really and it’s certainly worth it. I really don’t want to be that ‘healed’.