Reflecting the Mind of the
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Jesus Serving the Faith of the Little Ones
In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke, the evangelist who seeks to present the Christian faith to the elites of the Greco-Roman world, tells how Peter’s shadow could heal the sick just like the handkerchiefs that belonged to Paul (cf. Acts 5:15 and 19:12). At other times, Luke is very critical of magic. He tells us that in Ephesus new converts to Christ burned talismans and magic books worth 50,000 silver coins (cf. Acts 19:19). The ancient world was fond of magical procedures and protective amulets. Our world is not so different, as evidenced by widespread use of horoscopes and recourse to self-styled witches and wizards. How did Jesus find his way in such a world? What did he think of those who came to him with requests for healing or protection?

We need to make two introductory remarks. First, at that time there were no clear distinctions between healings and exorcisms, between medicine and religion. Temples dedicated to Aesculapius and other divinities were also often privileged places of healing. During his public ministry Jesus reconciled his teaching with the working of miracles. We must realize that this choice was by no means obvious and that he therefore constantly ran the risk of not being taken seriously as a teacher, and even being identified with itinerant healers who made a living from their “art.” There was a much less sharp distinction of roles than there is today.
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2024
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