When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.
In the dark before sunrise I sit in my studio and listen to the beating of my heart and to my breathing. That I breathe and am nourished thereby is a miracle. My lungs expand, and the air of the room is suddenly within me. Wow. My heart pumps blood that meets this air, exchanging the molecules of gas it carries for new ones. It then distributes the new molecules throughout my entire body, feeding all the cells along the way, even to the tips of my toes.
When the blood pumps back to my lungs it is full of waste, which it exchanges for new, nourishing molecules. Incredibly the waste goes out into my lungs again, into the air which is expelled, and back into the room. This air could not nourish me any more, but amazingly all the plants around me breathe my waste voraciously. It is rich in the molecules that nourish all their cells. And when these plants breathe, marvelously, they transform the air again. The waste that emerges from their cells is once again rich in what nourishes me. Astounding.
Our sciences cannot explain this miracle of breath. They can describe it in greater and greater detail, and they do. We can learn about the exact process by which oxygen is freed from the air and replaced with carbon dioxide in our lungs. We can understand which nerve impulses cause the muscles around the lungs to expand and contract. We can describe how the brain functions as our cerebral cortex alternately seizes control of the rhythm of our breaths and then lets it go so that deeper centers take over. We can say how many plants there would need to be in a completely sealed room so that both plants and a human could continue to be able to breathe in a healthy way. We can even mimic many of the processes involved. But all of this, every bit of our science, only describes what is true. The fact that it happens at all remains an awe-inspiring wonder.
Such incredible surprises as a pumping heart and functioning lungs are just a small slice of the marvel of being alive. I think about the cut I got on my finger yesterday when a very sharp knife went flying and I instinctively reached out to catch it. The soft pad of my ring finger was deeply pierced, and for awhile it bled. I helped the healing by wrapping it tightly with a bandage so that the edges of the cut were together. But the miracle was that the bleeding did stop and the flesh, through no agency of my own, began to knit itself back together from the inside out. Today it still hurts a little, but it is well on its way to becoming whole once more. Mind blowing!
Is it any wonder that the Messiah, the promised Savior, is a healer? The incarnate Creator, author of miracle, what else could he be?
All people who are oppressed look for a Savior who is a warrior, someone who will come with great might and avenge the world’s wrongs. We look for justice in warfare. But, truth be told, any bozo can cause pain and death; that’s easy. But only the author of the miracle of breath and of heartbeats can cause healing and life. True justice comes through the thriving of all living beings.
The agents of God are peacemakers, healers, those who long to transform fear and pain into hope and wholeness. When we act in concert with the impulse of God that dwells in our hearts we move to help cure what is broken. Being part of the Body of Christ, the presence of the Messiah on the planet, means comforting, feeding, helping and nourishing. It means being part of the miracle of life-giving breath and heartbeats that is Christ alive and active in the world.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: Christ the Healer, by Mary Katsilometes used with permission.