Catholic Church: Embodiment of Ministry of Healing

The Catholic Church has been in the forefront of healthcare and has withstood the tests of time growing bold in its mission to heal the sick as a mandate of its leader Iesus Christ.

Catholic Church: Embodiment of Ministry of Healing

By Fr. Richard Aloysius Coelho
The Catholic Church has been in the forefront of healthcare and has withstood the tests of time growing bold in its mission to heal the sick as a mandate of its leader Iesus Christ.  Agnew John in his editorial, "Deus Vult: The Geopolitics of Catholic Church" states that the Roman Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of health care services in the world. The Benedictine rule holds that "the care of the sick is to be placed above and before every other duty, as if indeed Christ were being directly served by waiting on them". The early Christians deemed the care of sick and infirm as the work of God.

Centuries have passed and there still stands prominent hospitals and care giving centres as testimony to the mark the Catholic Church has made in the world. We see the Bible narrating the healing nature of God. Healing of the leper, the restoration of sight, and the resurrection from the dead have been scripted in the doctrines of the church’s ministry to heal.

St Luke the apostle who was a physician himself, the most important patron saint for physicians and surgeons, has shown his concern for healing in his theology. Luke (7: 1 – 10) expresses the response the afflicted persons have to our Lord’s saving work and offer of salvation as in the case of the captain at Capernaum and his ailing servant. On many occasions after curing some disability of body or mind, instead of saying “your faith has healed you,” Jesus has said “your faith has saved you” (Lk 7:50; 8:48, 50; 17:19; 18:42). He tells Jairus, the synagogue official, upon hearing that his daughter has died, “Do not be afraid; just have faith and she will be saved.”

Young men and women with medicine and nursing backgrounds have been the pillars of India tiding every wave of sickness and infirmity. In gratitude to healthcare workers Pope Francis said, “You are the unsung heroes of this pandemic. How many of you have given your lives to be close to the sick! Thanks for the closeness, thanks for the tenderness, thanks for the professionalism with which you take care of the sick." The world has and will witness the healing ministry of the Church through its missionaries who endanger themselves for the healing of their fellow men and women.

Agencies setup by the Church has always been the balm for the suffering people in the remotest of places. The social mission of the church has made many men and women to dedicate their lives as doctors, nurses, paramedics and caregivers. Pope Francis says: “Let us go to the periphery.”   The Church has to reach the unreached; the health care must be made available to all.

Being part of the healthcare institutions like Father Muller’s Medical College and other allied healing ventures is a call to become the guardians of human life. God is the author and protector of life and the Church as a health care organisation is to cooperate with the Creator. Jesus through healing the sick gave the message of love, salvation and compassion. The Church in India today is reaching the unreached and giving a healing touch through all its health care organizations.

The Church is moving clearly with its mission of healing focussing on the theological aspect of health. It believes to serve the sick and suffering is a divine call. The motto echoing in the corridors of the Father Muller Charitable Institutions, Mangalore is “HEAL and COMFORT”. The faith in our Lord has helped us heal many, bearing witness to the phrase, “CHRIST THE TRUE PREACHER AND HEALER”. I thus urge our young men and women to hone this healing ministry of Christ, to make His healing known now and beyond.

(Fr. Richard Aloysius Coelho, Director, Father Muller’s Medical College and Charitable Institutions, Mangalore)

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