Vugt: Spirituality and pastoral care in healing

CHRISTIANS are called to heal.

In the Gospel, Jesus pledges that life will be lived from death to new life and healing. In both deeds and in words he clearly teaches love of neighbor and of people in need. Particularly in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luc. 10: 24-37), Jesus gives an exhortation on coming close to suffering.

This parable has theological and Christological interpretations. Above all else, it is a description of the merciful work of God in sending us his Son. It shows Jesus as the first Good Samaritan, in the sense of being sent by the Father into the streets of the world and in the pages of history to care for the wounded and the suffering.

As St. Paul writes Titus (3:4), Jesus fully manifests “the goodness of God our Savior and of his love for men”, for he has saved us “by his mercy”.

Jesus makes visible in his humanity in a transparent and tangible way the merciful and compassionate love of God. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14: 9).

Jesus became also the Good Samaritan of humanity when he assumed man’s fragile conditions. “He took our infirmities on him and bore all our sickness” (Is.53 in Mt. 8: 17) – being often moved by the needs of the people he met and stopping close to them to relieve them of sufferings.

Feeling compassion for the tired and hungry crowd, Jesus was moved to feed them, teach them and heal their sickness (Mt 9:36; 14:14 and Mk 6:34). Intervening with his power to heal sicknesses, he restored lepers, reinserted the marginalized, raised the dead, and pardoned sinners. And feeling compassion for the widow of Naim; Jesus consoled her and gave her back her son (Luc. 7:13).

Overall, the Parable of the Good Samaritan is an invitation to do as Jesus did, in relation to wounded neighbors we meet along the way so as to continue and actualize his mercy.

Health is defined as not just the absence of disease but also physical, emotional, and mental well being; absence of disease does not mean one is healthy but only that one is not sick at a particular time. A number of doctors have known for quite some time that spirituality plays a major role in both curative and preventive health.

Why then do doctors and other health care providers forget or omit the role of spirituality in discussions on health and disease? Healers are propagating a number of paradigms to help maintain and sustain health. They have included the use of mind and emotions through the following approaches: faith, mind over matter, mindfulness, positive feedback and affirmation.

In these approaches, they use the craft of fusing thoughts, emotions, and body so as to enable the body to control the occurrence or spread of disease. Such a craft takes a person a step higher to becoming a better person – a process similar to spirituality as a process of reforming a person, and if spirituality helps make a person become healthy.

Will it also help develop a better person?

(For your comment email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com)

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