In the song 'The Temple' from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Jesus ends the song by crying out in a loud voice, 'Heal yourselves!'. It is a controversial line in the production and many people argue that Jesus would never say these words and was always compassionate. The song has people seeking Jesus' attention to heal their various ailments. It builds to a crescendo where it appears that Jesus is totally overwhelmed by the need surrounding him.
I must say that sometimes (especially just before holidays) ministry feels a little this way. It is all too much. The demands that people place upon you and the expectations they have of your time and energy seem neverending. Thankfully, I am at the end of a week's leave and feeling ready to emerge out of my cocoon once more. I can certainly imagine Jesus feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the continuous challenges of his life. Maybe he didn't yell out, 'Heal yourselves!', but I have no problem believing he thought it every once in a while.
In fact, I think there is some wisdom in these harsh words. In my experience as a Spiritual Director, it is those people who are ready for healing to occur in their lives who are easiest to work with. They want healing and they are prepared to do the difficult work to help the process. I ask questions and feedback what I am hearing and seeing in the person. Often, the person will thank me at the end of the session, but really they have done the work. They have 'healed themselves'.
Many people want miracle cures and magic transformations. But, contrary to many claims, there are no magic wands waiting to fix all the problems. Inner healing comes from deep inner work. This takes time, commitment and courage. When we look at Jesus' encounters with people in the Gospels we find him helping people to heal themselves. The healing narratives almost always have a deeper conversation following which encourages the person to continue the journey of healing at a deeper level.
Healing is an ongoing process. It never ends. For me healing is about discovering my true self, being in right relationship with others and knowing my God. Only I can do that work. And so, Jesus' cry, 'Heal yourself' is not an offense, but a call to take responsibility and engage in the hard, inner work necessary for healing.