Excerpt from Healed Through Cancer
Jesus is more than with us. He is in us, and we are in Him. He experiences deeply, empathetically, and in actuality everything we experience. We are one with Him, and He is one with us. Jesus has consecrated Himself for us. “And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth. I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:19–21). Whatever happens to the least of us happens to Jesus Himself. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Whenever any one of us suffers, Jesus is really, and in a mystical way, suffering in His oneness in us, since each of us is, at least implicitly, a member of His Mystical Body.25
In Acts 9:2 we see Saul (who is later known as Paul) persecuting the Church, “that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.” Here was Saul who was involved in the stoning of the first martyr, Deacon Stephen, and who was trying to destroy the Church.
Now Saul was consenting to his [Stephen’s] execution. On that day, there broke out a severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles…. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.
Acts 8:1, 3
In Acts, chapter 9, we see Saul knocked off his horse, so to speak, by the Lord Jesus. Jesus said, “‘Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ He said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting’” (Acts 9:4–5). I borrow an insight from Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, which I often do. How could Saul be persecuting Jesus if Jesus had died, risen, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father?26 By the way, we see in Acts 7:56 that Jesus always stands to defend whenever a member of His Mystical Body is persecuted or suffers:27 “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). He is one with us.
So we see that Jesus identifies with each of us as one with us in our suffering. When we suffer so does Jesus suffer in His Mystical Body, and this suffering is not a waste! It is purifying and redemptive! It is power!
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen used to visit a sick person and ask for a few minutes of his or her prayers before he preached.28 Some of the power and grace of the prayers and suffering of the sick person were transferred to Archbishop Sheen. He acknowledged that all of his power came from Jesus in the Eucharist and from the suffering persons who interceded for him. And he was truly filled with the power of the Holy Spirit!
Dear reader, Jesus loves you infinitely and is with you every step of the way. I am sure He is proud of your fortitude and endurance in this battle, which is only for the good including your own purification and to contribute to the work of redemption for many others, first and foremost your own family members. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24–25).
Yes, the merits of our sufferings and prayers are transferable to others, those living on earth, and those completing their purification in purgatory before entering the eternal heavenly banquet. To borrow and expound upon an idea from Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, if it is possible to transfuse blood from one person to another to save that person’s life, it is most certainly possible in the spiritual realm for God to permit the transference of the merits of prayer and suffering from one to another in His Mystical Body.29
I find it interesting that one who donates blood will usually never know the identity of the recipient of the charitable act. Those of us who offer our prayers and sufferings for others will often not know the identity of all of the recipients of these graces. Sometimes the person receiving the blood transfusion is unconscious and helpless. Just so, many recipients of these transferable graces are unable to help themselves. It takes the faith, prayer, and sufferings or sacrifices of another to lift that soul up to God for redemption and healing. We are our brother’s keeper.
We can be absolutely certain that when we pray selflessly for the true good of another person, that prayer will always be answered in the affirmative, though God is the final determiner of whether what we think of as good is truly good for that person, with an eye on his or her eternal salvation. What we think is good may not be so good. In that case God will give something even better instead. Prayer is powerful and never wasted.
The power of prayer comes from God and returns back to Him when we pray, only to be replenished in us in an even greater proportion. Prayer always gets results, always! I am convinced that when we pray and sacrifice fervently for the spiritual good of another, such as his or her salvation or conversion, we can have no doubt that the intention for which we are praying will be granted. It is then not a question of if the prayer petition will be granted for the good of this other soul, but when God sees as the best time.
God’s time is typically not our time. He is patient, and so should we be. We should have absolute faith and confidence in the efficacy of our prayers and sacrifices, and in God’s goodness. I like to end my prayers with “The mountain has been cast into the sea!” from the following Bible passage: “Jesus answered, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself into the sea,” with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours…’” (Mark 11:23–25, jb). Note that it is God who responds to the prayer and gets the results for us. What magnificent power He has gifted us with in prayer! May we never neglect or waste this power, for the good of ourselves and others.
When we pray we should trust that God is good and faithful. Any other attitude would be to wound His Sacred Heart, which always overflows with love and goodness. How could He not grant the good of another soul when we pray? This would be against His very nature, and therefore impossible.
When God permits a serious cross such as cancer in our lives it is truly a stupendous gift for our good and the good of others, resulting in His glory. I do not want to be disingenuous and claim that the cross is all rosy and wonderful, or that those of us who are hanging and bleeding there should be outwardly happy and asserting how wonderful it is. No. The cross is the cross. It is hard. It was hard for Him to hang there and bleed.30 And it is hard for us to hang there when Christ lifts us up to hang there with Him. But deep down in the superior part of our soul there is to be found a spiritual joy.
The cross would have no value separated from the resurrection. The resurrection and our very salvation is the fruit of the tree of the cross. And believe me when I tell you that your cross is bearing fruit in your salvation and that of others. Jesus has privileged us with a tiny share of His cross with which to contribute to His mission of saving mankind. We will be eternally grateful for our crosses.
Our Blessed Lord Jesus Himself did not have to suffer and die for us. “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father” (John 10:17–18). Imagine that—choosing to suffer in this way when He could have saved Himself at any time. How many of us would choose to suffer if we could avoid it? His is not human love, but divine. And Jesus has divinized us through His death and resurrection and by sending His Holy Spirit to reside in us.
Yes, we are actually incorporated and transformed into Christ, and thereby divinized, so that the Father sees Jesus when He looks at us. We become the smell of a fertile field, a fragrant aroma to Him. “He blessed him saying: ‘Yes, the smell of my son is like the smell of a fertile field blessed by Yahweh’” (Genesis 27:27, jb). This divinization “is all God’s work” (2 Corinthians 5:17–18, jb).
We are each made into a