FR MICHAEL BIBLICAL IMAGERY
(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)
WE PREACH IN ORDER TO HEAL
It seems that the entire ministry of Jesus before his passion can be summed up in two words: preaching and healing. Today’s gospel passage provides us with a summary of his activities in both areas, right at the beginning of his public ministry.
First, Jesus is shown healing all manners of ailments, from the mere fever of Simon’s mother-in-law to demonic possession. No ailment was beyond his power to heal. He was simply Master of them all.
Towards the end of the passage Jesus himself tells his disciples, “Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.” Therefore, part of the reason why Jesus, the Son of God, came into this world was to preach; that is to proclaim the Good News.
Both aspects of the ministry of Jesus go hand-in-hand. Preaching accompanies healing, just as healing reinforces preaching. What Isaiah prophesized of the Messiah, and Jesus claimed for himself, readily comes to mind: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2).
The Church was established by Christ to continue his ministry through all time and space. That is exactly what the Church has endeavored to do all through her over two-thousand-year history so far. In every generation and in every place the Church has sought both to preach and to heal. Both activities have always been present in the Church. They have never gone away. At various times, one aspect might have assumed greater prominence than the other. But neither of them has ever been completely absent from the Church.
Our world has never been in greater need of proclamation of the Good News, and the healing that comes with, it than at the present time. Everywhere you turn there is a surfeit of information on practically every subject under heaven. But in the midst of all that information, there is an acute dearth of truth. The question of Pontius Pilate seems to be ringing louder than ever: “What is truth?” (John 18:38). That is where proclamation of the Good News comes in: to tell us and the world what truth is.
On a similar note, our world today is very sick, perhaps more sick than at any other time in history. The range of sicknesses goes from the physical to the psychological, the moral and the spiritual. Some of the ailments that you encounter in our world today are original; that is to say, nobody has ever heard them before and nobody has ever suffered from them before. Again, those ailments can be found in the physical, psychological, moral, and spiritual spheres. Put simply, our world is sick, and needs healing very badly. How on earth can “same-sex marriage” be approved as a norm in society; what went on in the minds of those who approved it in the countries they practicing it? With the kind of things that are receiving approval in our world, if our forebears come back to life to visit us, they may think that we have employed the devil himself as the CEO of world affairs. Do not sit in the Church and hope that those things that have received approval in society will ever see the green light.
The Church has both the mandate and the authority (power) from Jesus both to dispel the darkness (blindness) of our world with proclamation of the Good News and to heal its multiple ailments with the diverse remedies available to her: physical, psychological, moral and spiritual. That is what defines the mission of the Church in our world today as it did that of Jesus over 2000 years ago.