WHY ME? HEAL ME!

WHY ME? HEAL ME!

Excerpt from Healed Through Cancer and Other Adversities by James Littleton

Visit http://www.healedthroughcancer.com/

 

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Email author at healedthroughcancer@gmail.com

 

My doctor said to me: “I think you have Chronic

Lymphocytic Leukemia.”

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came with her sons to

make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her,

“What is it you want?” She said to him, “Promise that these

two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the

other at your left in your kingdom.” “You do not know what

you are asking,” Jesus answered. “Can you drink the cup

that I am going to drink?” They replied, “We can.” “Very

well,” he said “you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at

my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant;

they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by

my Father.”

Matthew 20:20–23 (jb)

The cup Jesus was referring to is the sharing of His cross, which

is, in God’s mysterious, but perfect ways, purifying, healing,

redemptive, and effective in transforming us into His apostles and

in working to bring others to Christ and in giving God glory.

I was one of those men who very rarely went to the doctor,

other than to get some antibiotics for an illness. I had enjoyed

excellent health my entire life. I had taken this for granted. I was

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34

athletic, in good physical condition with a black belt in Kenpo

karate. I had run a couple of marathons. I would walk, jog, play

basketball, and do calisthenics to keep fit in recent years.

In late October 2009 I visited a new family-practice doctor

for the first time. I did not have a regular doctor. I had a chronic

hoarseness and night sweats, which I was concerned about.

I thought I had a problem with my throat. The doctor found

enlarged lymph nodes in my neck and had a comprehensive blood

test run. I received a call from her to come back into her office.

When I met with her she told me that my white blood cells were

very elevated, and she provided a provisional diagnosis of Chronic

Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), which was later confirmed by a

hematologist/oncologist as stage IV CLL. In the following month

or so I learned that I also have the rare 17p chromosome deletion

that makes my form of CLL most aggressive and difficult to treat.

I learned that my prognosis was not very promising but that

there were chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments that

could help; however, it eventually became clear that I would need

a stem-cell transplant, also known as a bone-marrow transplant,

which was risky in terms of mortality, but which also held out the

reasonable hope of a remission or cure.

It was then the moment to turn to the theological virtue of

hope. “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the

kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our

trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but

on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1817).

Hope is such a beautiful virtue, which we must beg for an

increase in from our Blessed Lord. It is good to hope for a physical

healing from cancer or other serious ailments. Life is beautiful.

Every moment is a gem. There are so many opportunities to grow

in love in this life, to grow closer to our infinitely loving God.

We must trust in God completely. The truth is, nevertheless, that

none of us can have our lives indefinitely prolonged. There comes

a moment, a perfect moment, in which God will call each of us

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to Himself. This cannot happen until He says so. God’s timing is

always perfect. He arranges every moment and circumstance for

our good.

The ultimate good is our salvation, to implore God’s alwaysavailable,

infinite mercy, so we can be gifted with heaven and

be with God, and be perfectly happy glorifying Him for all

eternity. “We know that by turning everything to their good God

co-operates with all those who love him, with all those that he

has called according to his purpose. They are the ones he chose

specially long ago and intended to become true images of his Son”

(Romans 8:28–30, jb).

Yes, God turns everything to its good, no exceptions—yes,

even our faults, failings, and sins, which humiliate and humble us

and tend to make us more forgiving toward others.

Do we believe that God can even bring a tremendous good out

of our sins? Pay attention to this! At the Easter Vigil Mass each

year a beautiful prayer is prayed which includes the following:

“O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the

Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious

a Redeemer!” (RM). How can Adam’s sin be called happy and

necessary? True, Adam’s sin offended God and brought many

consequences with it; however, had Adam not sinned there would

not have been a need for God to become man, as Jesus, to lift us

up, sanctify us, yes, and even divinize us. As a result of Adam’s sin,

Jesus established his Church, which is His living Mystical Body, to

give us the Sacraments including Baptism, which makes us each

priest, prophet, and king. The graces Jesus brought to us transform

us into His very self so that when the Father gazes upon us He

sees Jesus. Did Adam have all this before he sinned? No! We now

have infinitely more than Adam had before he sinned.

Adam prefigured the One to come, but the gift itself

considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that

through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more

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36

certain that divine grace, coming through the one man,

Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. The

results of the gift also outweigh the results of one man’s sin:

for after one single fall came judgement with a verdict of

condemnation, now after many falls comes grace with its

verdict of acquittal. If it is certain that death reigned over

everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even

more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone

to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not

deserve, of being made righteous. Again, as one man’s fall

brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one

man brings everyone life and makes them justified. As by

one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one

man’s obedience many will be made righteous. When law

came it was to multiply the opportunities of falling, but

however great the number of sins committed, grace was

even greater; and so, just as sin reigned wherever there was

death, so grace will reign to bring eternal life thanks to the

righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Romans 5:15–21 (jb)

Never despair of God’s mercy. “Let us be confident, then, in

approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from

him and find grace when we are in need of help” (Hebrews 4:16,

jb).

If you want a dim glimpse into how much God loves each

of us, no exceptions (we can never completely comprehend the

infinity of this love), look at and contemplate a crucifix, with Jesus,

God and man, hanging there for us. He did not come to save the

righteous but sinners of which I admit I am one in a big way. How

about you? May each of us admit and embrace with confidence and

certainty that the infinite mercy of Jesus is available to each of us

if we only reach out and accept it. Someone once said something

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to the effect that there are many unclaimed graces hanging from

strings from heaven that are only waiting for us to cut the strings.

The scissors are prayer.

I am, of course, not saying that we have a license to sin,

presumptuous of God’s mercy. We should never play God for the

fool! We do not want to offend the One we love the most. But

we need to have confidence that God does bring a great good

even out of our sins. This good may often be hidden to us, but

sometimes God gives us a glimpse. In my case, had I not been the

sinner that I was, I would not have the credibility and influence

that I have in what I write and speak about. Can not most of you

relate to me better, the admitted sinner that I am, than if I had

been or claimed to have been virtually perfect since the moment

of my birth?

Thanks be to Jesus for His awesome mercy. Thank You, Jesus,

for pouring Your healing balm into our wounds. Thank You for

bringing us Your peace. “Jesus came and stood among them. He

said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and

his side” (John 20:20, jb).

So it is good to keep things in perspective. It is good to pray

for a healing and a prolongation of our lives: “Father, if you are

willing, take this cup away from me”, but with a caveat of: “still,

not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).

And where did this cup of redemptive suffering come from?

“Jesus said to Peter…‘Shall I not drink the cup that the Father

gave me?’” (John 18:11). The cup came from the Father. Note the

disciples of Jesus praying to the Father: “Indeed they gathered in

this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod

and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of

Israel, to do what your hand and [your] will had long ago planned

to take place(Acts 4:27–28). See, this cup of suffering was what

the Father’s hand and will had always planned.

Why this cup? Out of love for us, God gives this cup so that a

tremendous good would come from the suffering and death of His

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38

only Son, Jesus, that being our eternal salvation. Why me? Why

Jesus? The answer is the same—our Father’s will for the salvation

of souls, our own and others, for His glory.

Why the cross? Why suffering? Why pain? Certainly there

is some mystery involved. But we can be sure that the cross is

purifying and redemptive both for us and others. The old adage

applies: No pain, no gain.

The physical order mirrors the truth and reality of the spiritual

order. A few examples would include the following. A mother goes

through extreme pain in labor only to receive the marvelous gift

of a baby. The horrible pain is soon forgotten (well, I suppose to

some extent). We exercise to get or stay in shape, suffering fatigue

and various pains in order to be rewarded with a healthier body in

good condition, and perhaps a prolonged life. A student sacrifices

to study and work hard in order to be rewarded with a developed

mind and the necessary skills to work efficaciously in society. We

sacrifice activity for sleep in order to be refreshed. We make the

sacrifice to go to work, often for long hours so that we might

provide sustenance for ourselves and our family. We visit the

dentist to have a cavity filled, which can be a painful experience,

but the end result is healthy teeth and a winning smile.

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the

kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). That kingdom definitely starts

here on earth and is not to be put off for even a moment. Entering

the kingdom means being part of the Mystical Body of Jesus. This

is how we are healed and purified.

It is best to embrace God’s will, which is perfect and always

working toward our good. What we can be certain about in

reference to His will is that the moment we have before us now

is beyond doubt encompassed in His will. We must use each

moment well, live life to the full joyfully, have mercy on others

and on ourselves, love and serve others at every opportunity. God

help me to live this better!

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Let us be grateful to God for each moment that He gives

us. As I said, each moment is a gem! We will never pass this way

again, this moment of encounter with God, encounter with

others, circumstance, redemptive pain, whatever it may be in His

magnificent plan! Thank You for everything, Jesus! Help us to live

well every moment of this beautiful gift of life You have given us.

Here is another glimpse into the question, “Why me? Why

have I experienced this cross?” John 9:1–41 (jb):

As he went along, he saw a man who had been blind

from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned,

this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?”

“Neither he nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered “he was

born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in

him. As long as the day lasts I must carry out the work of

the one who sent me; the night will soon be here when no

one can work. As long as I am in the world I am the light

of the world.”

So we see that the blindness, the cross that the man had suffered

from birth, was not because of his sin or the sins of his parents. It

was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We see how

Jesus is teaching that a tremendous good comes out of the cross.

Had He Himself not embraced the night to come when no one can

work by dying on the cross for us, and then risen from the dead

three days later, we would have no hope of salvation. Our work

and effort only have true eternal value and efficacy when done in

union with Christ. Jesus reveals Himself as the light of the world.

We are each called to imitate Him by carrying out the work of our

Father according to our own mission and possibilities.

“Having said this, he spat on the ground, made a paste with

the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man and said to

him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam,’ (a name that means

‘sent’) So the blind man went off and washed himself and came

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40

away with his sight restored.” Here we see how Jesus uses His

Body and the created things of this world as signs and means of

conferring His grace. He employs His sublime, perfect Body, even

His spittle— as everything about Him was inconceivably holy:

His consoling, wonderful voice; His warm, comforting, gentle

touch; His infinitely loving gaze, all of which He took on in the

Incarnation out of love of us and to confer grace. This action of

Jesus points to the seven Sacraments Jesus instituted for His holy

Catholic Church, such as the water used in Baptism; holy oils

used in Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders (in other words,

ordination to the various degrees of the priesthood); the bread

and wine used in Holy Mass which are transformed into the true

and actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ; and

the humanity of the priest when he raises his hand and confers

absolution in the Sacrament of Penance (Confession), as he acts

in persona Christi (in the person of Christ).

As human beings, don’t we need the assurance of these concrete

signs? Many say that they confess their sins to God directly, but

there is nothing like the peace and assurance that come when

Jesus forgives our sins through the priest acting in persona Christi,

as the priest raises his hand and we hear the words of absolution:

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and the

resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself

and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of

sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you

pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the

name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.3

CCC 1449

What a sublime grace it is to hear these words spoken to us by

Jesus through His priest.

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For those Catholics who want to prepare well for a good

confession, as well as others who would also like to examine

their consciences, I have included an Examination of Conscience

in the appendix. It may be a little difficult to understand, so turn

to the Holy Spirit for help in understanding these spiritual and

moral realities. Don’t be afraid. I am not proud of this, but I have

committed most every sin on this list in the course of my life

in some shape or form. Confession is the “Sacrament of Mercy.”

We can take solace in the following scripture: “However great

the number of sins committed, grace was even greater” (Romans

5:21, jb). I have also included a Guide to Confession: How to Go

to Confession.

We also see here the faith that the blind man exercised in

following the instruction of Jesus, which would not make much

sense on a human level, when he went and washed in the Pool of

Siloam. The blind man was sent to this pool called “sent,” and once

healed would be sent to others to proclaim what the good God

had done for Him to help bring them to the gift of faith, and to

give God glory.

His neighbors and people who earlier had seen him

begging said, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”

Some said, “Yes, it is the same one.” Others said, “No, he

only looks like him.” The man himself said, “I am the man.”

So they said to him, “Then how do your eyes come to be

open?” “The man called Jesus” he answered “made a paste,

daubed my eyes with it and said to me, ‘Go and wash at

Siloam’; so I went, and when I washed I could see.” They

asked, “Where is he?” “I don’t know.” He answered.

Once we begin to be healed and transformed by Jesus it is usually

the case that the people around us in our lives will become

confused when observing the changes in us, which have come

about through no merit of our own, but through the grace of God.

James M. Littleton

42

It is sometimes difficult for them to comprehend the invisible at

work in us—the things of the Spirit, Who has been poured out

upon us. We may not have all the insights and answers, but the

change and fruits in us are undeniable.

They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees.

It had been a Sabbath day when Jesus made the paste and

opened the man’s eyes, so when the Pharisees asked him

how he had come to see, he said, “He put a paste on my eyes,

and I washed, and I can see.” Then some of the Pharisees

said “This man can not be from God: he does not keep the

Sabbath.” Others said, “How could a sinner produce signs

like this?” And there was disagreement among them. So

they spoke to the blind man again, “What have you to say

about him yourself now that he has opened your eyes?” “He

is a prophet” replied the man.

We see how the blind man is just beginning to comprehend and

have faith in Jesus, and to understand Who He is. We can also

notice the confusion among the Pharisees, some not believing

and being hypercritical, and others beginning to be transformed

themselves. How can a sinner produce fruits like this? Is this not the

experience of the people in our lives when we begin to live Christ?

The blind man is beginning to have some experience of St.

Paul who said, “Life to me, of course, is Christ” (Philippians

1:21, jb). This man, who has been healed from his blindness, is

a figure of how Jesus heals us and brings us into the light of his

truth and mercy. He is experiencing a deep transformation that is

available to each of us, “and for anyone who is in Christ, there is

a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one

is here. It is all God’s work” (2 Corinthians 5:17–18, jb). He is

beginning to experience the sentiments of St. Paul: “The love of

Christ overwhelms us” (2 Corinthians 5:14, jb). This healing and

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transformation that we experience is not due to any merit on our

part. It is all God’s work.

However, the Jews would not believe that the man was

blind and had gained his sight without first sending for

his parents and asking them, “Is this man really your son

who you say was born blind? If so, how is it that he is able

to see?” His parents answered, “We know that he is our son

and we know that he was born blind, but we don’t know

how it is that he can see or who opened his eyes. He is old

enough: let him speak for himself.” His parents spoke like

this out of fear for the Jews who had already agreed to expel

from the synagogue any one who should acknowledge

Jesus as the Christ. This is why his parents said, “He is old

enough; ask him.”

We see here a representation of how, once we begin to be

transformed by and into Christ, even those family members and

friends closest to us are often not ready to understand. They may

react out of fear as they contemplate the possible truth and reality

of what has happened, while asking themselves what it would cost

them to follow Christ. We can be confident, however, that when

we fervently pray and sacrifice for them they will, in God’s time,

be converted and transformed as well, and we will spend eternity

most happily in heaven with those we love the most.

So the Jews again sent for the man and said to him, “Give

Glory to God! For our part we know that this man is a

sinner.” The man answered, “I don’t know if he is a sinner;

I only know that I was blind and now I can see.” They said

to him, “What did he do for you? How did he open your

eyes?” He replied, “I have told you once and you wouldn’t

listen. Why do you want to hear it all again? Do you want

to become his disciples too?” At this they hurled abuse at

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44

him. “You can be his disciple,” they said “We’re disciples of

Moses: we know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this

man we don’t know where he comes from.” The man replied,

“Now here is an astonishing thing! He has opened my eyes

and you don’t know where he comes from! We know that

God doesn’t listen to sinners, but God does listen to men

who are devout and do his will. Ever since the world began

it is unheard of for anyone to open the eyes of a man who

was born blind; if this man were not from God, he couldn’t

do a thing.” “Are you trying to teach us,” they replied “and

you a sinner through and through since you were born!”

And they drove him away.

When we begin to live the truth and follow Christ, we can count

on abuse and persecution from some. This is an absolute. We

must, however, persevere through this. Jesus said, “Alas for you

when the world speaks well of you!” (Luke 6:26, jb). We who are

beginning to be transformed by Christ are often seen as a threat

to those around us by the example of our lives which call them to

conversion. They wonder why we are not living the same way as

they are, like we used to. Some will not want anything to do with

us any longer—and they drove him away.

Jesus heard they had driven him away, and when he found

him he said to him “Do you believe in the son of man?”

“Sir,” the man replied “tell me who he is that I may believe

in him.” Jesus said “You are looking at him; he is speaking

to you.” The man said “Lord, I believe”, and worshipped

him.

We see how Jesus did not and would never abandon this man

who had been born blind. He sought him out when in trouble.

He sought his faith. The man responded well with the words we

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should all imitate, “Lord, I believe.” We should imitate the faith of

this man by worshiping Jesus in “spirit and truth” (John 4:24, jb).

“Jesus said: ‘It is for judgment that I have come into the world,

so that those without sight may see and those with sight may turn

blind.’” We see how blindness is a metaphor for being in the dark

without our savior, Jesus Christ. When we allow Him into our

lives, we come into the light. It is true that in the light we find

various forms of the cross, but this is the only way to an elevated

height of love and conversion.

We should try to keep in mind that after the cross of Good

Friday comes the Resurrection of Easter. Through our crosses, we

have been chosen by Christ to help Him redeem the world. What

a privilege! The following quote is worth many repetitions in this

little book: “It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering

now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that

has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the

Church” (Colossians 1:24–25, jb).

May we have the experience of St. Paul as regards the cross:

During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed

to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the

crucified Christ. Far from relying on any power of my

own, I came upon you in great “fear and trembling” and

in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were

none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a

demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so

your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on

the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:2–5 (jb)

It is apropos to borrow an insight from Venerable Archbishop

Fulton J. Sheen.4 When St. Paul first went to Corinth he had

just left Athens where he had preached at the great Council of

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46

the Areopagus. He had had limited success in winning converts

to Christianity in Athens, I think because he relied too much on

himself, and not on Christ. He spoke in terms of philosophy, in

which he was well trained, and skipped right over the crucifixion

of Jesus to the resurrection. He learned from this experience so

that from then on he preached and lived the cross of Christ. At

Corinth Jesus encouraged St. Paul:

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, “Do not be

afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am

with you. I have so many people on my side in this city

that no one will even attempt to hurt you.” So Paul stayed

there preaching the word of God among them for eighteen

months.

Acts 18:9–11 (jb)

Returning to John 9:1–41 (jb) we read,

Jesus said: “It is for judgment that I have come into the

world, so that those without sight may see and those with

sight may turn blind.” Hearing this, some Pharisees who

were present said to him, “We are not blind, surely?” Jesus

replied: “Blind? If you were you would not be guilty, but

since you say, ‘We see’, your guilt remains.”

May we all admit to Jesus that we are blind without Him and seek

His always readily available healing and forgiveness.

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About jamesmlittleton

James Littleton is happily married to Kathleen for thirty-three years, father of nineteen, fourteen living on earth ages thirty to ten, and five living in heaven. James is a hope-filled, inspirational national speaker, author, evangelist, retreat master, co-founder and co-director of Forming Faithful Families™ and One More Baby for Jesus™, host of Forming Faithful Families Radio and Television. Learn more at www.formingfaithfulfamilies.com or email formingfaithfulfamilies@gmail.com
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