Now that Lent has started it is all the more appropriate reflecting on the relevance of God’s Word. As many of you would know God’s Word is a real medicine in our lives. It is especially so for those who really believe in its power.
A patristic text named Paedagogus, written by the Christian theologian and teacher at the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), Christ is presented as the “tutor” or teacher of humanity. Moreover Christ is not just presented as teacher in an instructional sense but He is also presented as the one who motivates the Christian to appropriately and truthfully respond to God’s Love. In this early third century text we read the following:
“Hence accordingly ensues the healing of our passions, in consequence of the assuagements of those examples; the Pædagogue strengthening our souls, and by His benign commands, as by gentle medicines, guiding the sick to the perfect knowledge of the truth” (Paedagogus I, 12).
Thus, Christ’s healing is effected by his teaching that strengthens and guides through sound knowledge and unshakeable truth. In this perspective let us not forget what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI taught us in apostolic exhortation about the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, Verbum Domini:
“‘In the case of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick too, it must not be forgotten that ‘the healing power of the word of God is a constant call to the listener’s personal conversion’. Sacred Scripture contains countless pages which speak of the consolation, support and healing which God brings. We can think particularly of Jesus’ own closeness to those who suffer, and how he, God’s incarnate Word, shouldered our pain and suffered out of love for us, thus giving meaning to sickness and death. It is good that in parishes and in hospitals, according to circumstances, community celebrations of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick should be held. On these occasions greater space should be given to the celebration of the word, and the sick helped to endure their sufferings in faith, in union with the redemptive sacrifice of Christ who delivers us from evil” (no. 61).
If we read with faith God’s Word we find that Christ really heals us. The Gospels’ miracles certainly occurred. These signs are important in the transmission of the Good News. In fact they are its rubber stamp. The Gospel’s set up already reveals this when it shows us that around one-third of its structure is precisely concerned with the healings Jesus accomplished during the brief time of his public life. What a big mistake is done when one tries to ignore the presence of these miracles or somehow attempt to lessen their power by simply giving a natural explanation for every sign. This would be tantamount to pulling apart the entire Gospel and unjustly render it incomprehensible altogether!
Let us not forget, as the Preacher of the Papal Household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap, rightly illustrated that “Jesus works miracles out of compassion, because he loves people. He also works miracles to help them believe. He heals, ultimately, to proclaim that God is the God of life and that, in the end, together with death, sickness too will be defeated and ‘there will be no more mourning nor weeping.’”
The most beautiful thing in all this, Cantalamessa teaches, “is not only Jesus who heals, but he also orders his disciples to do the same after him: ‘He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the infirm’ (Luke 9:2). ‘Preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick’ (Matthew 10:7ff.). We always find the two things linked: preaching the Gospel and healing the sick”.
Jesus’ Word is powerful! That is why Peter told him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). In Saint John’s Chrysostom’ commentary on John’s Gospel these words by Peter demonstrate that “their (apostles) Teacher was more precious to them than anything, than father or mother, or any possessions”. Jesus was their Saviour!
If I want to access salvation why not heed to Jesus’ Word; That “word which disrupts, which calls to conversion and which opens the way to an encounter with the one through whom anew humanity flowers” (Verbum Domini, 93)?