What is the difference between a cure and being healed?

Reflection for Friday of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time

There was a man suffering from dropsy.
Jesus asked the scholars of the law and the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?”
They kept silent, so Jesus took the man and healed him. (see Lk 14:1-6)

Two similar words are used in the gospel account of the man with dropsy:  cure and heal.  Jesus first asked, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath?”  He then “took him, healed him, and sent him away.”  When I go to Jesus with a problem, I often ask for a cure.  I want Jesus to fix whatever it is (and fix it now!)  What I really need to ask for is healing. 

There’s a difference between a cure and a healing. A cure treats an immediate problem.  If a person is cured of cancer, the cancer has been defeated and is no longer there to afflict. Healing goes deeper. Beyond the physical, healing restores the spiritual, emotional, and social dimensions of an afflicted person.  When I am sick, I not only feel lousy but feel alone and my life seems meaningless.  My physical desolation rapidly descends into emotional and spiritual desolation. 

The word ‘heal’ comes from the same root word as “whole”.  To be healed means to be made whole in both the inner self as well in the relationships with others in the community.  The man with dropsy was ‘sent away’.  We might hear that in a negative way, as in dismissed, but more likely after the healing he was able to rejoin the community which had labeled him ‘unclean’.  His life was made whole.

 A cure can come from a doctor or other specialist.  True healing, however, can only come from Jesus. When you have a problem, do you ask God for a cure or do you ask to be healed?


Holy Spirit,
drive away from me all forms of sickness and disease.
restore strength to my body and joy to my spirit,
so that in my renewed health,
I may bless and serve you,
now and forevermore.

Post note: The above reflection was posted in the Daily Inspiration from JesuitPrayer.org for the 30th Friday of Ordinary Time. To subscribe, visit Subscription Update (jesuitprayer.org).