Jesus said to his disciples ‘Heal the sick ….., say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you”’ [Lk 10:9]
This week-end we will be celebrating St Luke, referred to by Paul as ‘the blessed physician’; patron saint of physicians. The medical professions have been much in our news, thoughts and prayers of late, for obvious reasons. Modern health care is an increasingly skilled, specialist task. Once our needs have gone much beyond an aspirin or an Elastoplast we are ready to hand ourselves over to the professionals; and wisely so. When we pray for healing, remember that the gift of medical skill is God-given. But even as medical capabilities become ever more specialist, I believe we are learning afresh the fundamental truth that there is more to health than medicine.
Jesus once said “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”. [Jn 10:10] Abundant life is much more than physical necessities; it encompasses joy, happiness, sense of purpose – which we experience through healthy relationships. One of our most fundamental human needs is to know that we are loved. Not valued for what we represent, what we can offer, or what we have done; but simply loved for our own sake, because we are.
En-route to Jerusalem, Jesus sent his followers ahead to prepare the way. The instruction was simple; if a village welcomes you, heal the sick and tell them God has come near. Whatever else matters in your life, God cares. I listened recently to someone who had suffered a painful personal tragedy. They shared how friends and colleagues had struggled to know how to respond, and relationships had suffered as a consequence. Then, through it all they had learned that God was their real friend. Whatever the physical need of the moment, they knew that God had carried them through the dark time, and was now with them in their time of healing. God, they had discovered, cared and was near.
Physical and mental health are important, and as we remember St Luke, thank God for the skill and care of all who serve our medical professions. At the same time let us remember that our souls are equally important. God’s love for us, shown supremely at calvary, is love not for what we do, but because we are. We may not be skilled in medicine, but we can show the nearness of the kingdom of God, as we give and receive his love, shared with our neighbours.
Rev. Philip Payne
The Pew Sheet for 18 August can be found in Downloads