THE CHURCH AND MINISTRY OF HEALING
Lift up your staff and raise up your hand over the sea, and split in two, that the Israelites may pass through the sea on dry land (EX 14:1-16)
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, the healer of human frailty. As the world continues to come to terms with the outbreak of what has been named coronavirus, I invite all of you to take a step back and listen to the voice of the Lord even in the midst of these worrisome and threatening moments. I find useful points of reflection for us from the sacred writings, which I propose to you today.
When the people of Israel departed from Egypt and the chariots of the pharaoh were in pursuit of them, they started to complain against Moses. Moses in answer to their fear said: ‘Do not Fear! Stand your ground, and see the victory the Lord will win for you….’ (EX 14:13)Yahweh then said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying to me? Tell the Israelites to set out. And you, lift up your staff and raise up your hand over the sea, and split it in two that the Israelites may pass through the sea on dry land….’ (EX 14:1-16)
And again, the gospel of Luke tell us of the story of Jesus and the Leper: ‘Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was: and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘I do will it. Be made clean. ‘And the Leprosy left him immediately’ (Luke 5:12-13)
I invite you to listen to what Moses tells the people of Israel and to what God tells Moses in turn. Then I invite you to listen attentively to the interaction between Jesus and the leper. In case Moses and the Israelites, the imminent threat was real, and in state of fright and panic, the people complained bitterly against Moses. At this point, Moses stepped out and calmed their fear: ‘Do not fear! Stand your ground…..’ And then from there Yahweh takes over and gives Moses instructions: ‘Tell the Israelites to set out. And you, lift up your staff and raise up your hand over the sea, and split it in two….’I ask all priests at this time, to play the role of Moses. The same applies to all religious brothers and sisters. Calm the flock that may be in fear and do not add to their fright. You have in your hand the staff to raise the people’s mind to God in the most threatening moments. This is the God of Jesus Christ whom when a man with a virulent disease happened upon him, he did not run away. He listened to his plea: ‘ Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean. ‘Let us raise our hands in prayer and ask the Lord to protect the nation and heal all those laboring under the yoke of this virus; both those who are actually sick and those sick with fear. Let us lift the voice of the people in prayer and tell the Lord: ‘Lord if you are willing you can cleanse us….’ I am willing. Be cleansed’ amidst all the other measures we are going to take, I implore you not to forget the most important measure. Let us like the Leper, fall on our face and implore him saying: ‘Lord if you wish, you can make me clean.’ And as he instructed Moses, he will instruct us on what to do. And as Jesus healed the Leper, his healing hand will provide not just for our nation but for entire nations and peoples.
I ask all priests and religious men and women to be available to the people of God when they are called upon. This is our life, this is our mission! Above all take the people to God in prayer. Let us celebrate the Holy Eucharist in supplication to the Lord. We have the responsibility to lift up the staff and raise up our hand in order to split the sea in two to let the people of God pass through the sea of sickness and fear ‘on dry land’ Listen more and more to what the Lord is telling you and do not be overly driven by fear. Be men and women of faith! May the Lord heal the nation and may he heal the world; for ‘the earth is the Lord’s and all its holds, the world and all who dwell in it’. (Ps.24:1) I ask you to maintain basic hygiene measures in all our parishes and all places frequented by the faithful for pastoral and spiritual care. Ask the people to do likewise.
While wishing you an abundance of God’s blessings during this Lenten season and commend you to the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the health of the sick, I remain,
Yours devotedly in Christ,
Rt. Rev.Maurice.M. Makumba
Bishop of Nakuru