Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Messenger of Divine Healing

The Holy Raphael
'God has healed'
So Raphael was sent to heal both of them: Tobit, by removing the film from his eyes that he might see God's light; and Sarah by giving her in marriage to Tobias, and by setting her free from the wicked demon Asmodeus.
The account of the Archangel Raphael is found in the Book of Tobit, which is numbered among the books of the Bible by some and among the Apocrypha by others. Two things from Tobit come to mind, one absurd, the other profound.

The absurd aspect is found in the Medieval “Tobias nights” a sure priestly revenue stream. Based on the account of Tobias remaining chaste for three nights after his marriage (part of surviving his demon possessed wife), this was presented as a holy obligation of newly married couples. Unless, of course, you paid a 'slight' fee to a priest to be released from it. (Where are fund-raisers like that when you need them?)

In the sixth chapter of Tobit, we find the young man (Tobias), the angel (Raphael), and a dog journeying together. This in itself is a wonderful image of our multifaceted selves. The angel is an aspect of our highest self, mysterious, seemingly remote, and in touch with an even greater mystery. The young man is our everyday self, our ego and persona complexes, forever unsure and with something to prove. The dog is our physical nature, the evolved part of ourselves, in closest touch with our instincts and needs.

In the story, the young man is soaking his feet in a river, when, suddenly, a great fish comes up from the deep to swallow his foot. This is such an apt metaphor for what happens to us too often: on our journey we relax our consciousness a bit, and a complex comes up out of our unconscious to swallow us—to take over our ego and send us reeling. The angel comes to the aid of the young man, telling him to catch the fish. That is to say, to become conscious of the complex.

When this is done, the angel tells him to gut the fish and to keep the heart, the gall, and the liver as these can be used in healing, but to dispose of the other entrails. This is the most important part, for if the complex were merely thrown back into the unconscious, it would return again and again. One must bring it to consciousness, and go through the difficult, and often very disagreeable, process of analysis to remove and retain the vitality at the heart of the complex. The young man eats of these parts of the fish, reintegrating that vitality back into his life. In doing that, his part of that particular work is completed, he has been healed.

However, the angel further instructs him to take of the heart and liver and burn them to smoke where there is someone possessed, and that this will heal the possession. And to take the gall and anoint those whose eyes are covered with a film and they will see. It is by doing our own psychological and spiritual work that we may have something of value to aid others going through similar work. We can transform our own internal demons into balms for the aid of others oppressed by their own. It is important to remember, and the wise never forget, that as we cannot do someone else's work, we cannot push healing upon someone else—and we can only aid insofar as we ourselves are truly healed. “Physician, heal thyself,” and “remove the beam from thine own eye,” for it is such a healing that benefits the world.

May we be open to the Messenger of Divine Healing, to the healing power that transcends and pervades all things. And, in some small way, follow his example in our own lives.

Readings for the day.

Wikipedia Entry.

The Book of Tobit at CCEL.

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