Submitted by Jan on Mon, 27/05/2013 – 21:09
Year C (2012-2013)
Bible Book: Luke / Lukas
Verse: 1 – 10
In the Gospels Jesus repeatedly is pictured as a healer, surrounded by people seeking his compassionate care. What is unusual about the story of Jesus healing the “slave” of a Gentile military commander told by Luke, is that Jesus neither meets the ill person nor the centurion who sent messengers asking Jesus’ help. In fact, we know almost nothing about the man who is sick; instead the text dwells on the faith of the man who summons help.
Frankly, the biblical stories of Jesus healing people have always puzzled me. For years, I skipped over them, since I was trying to figure out a rational explanation of how the healing occurred. I was stumped. You have to stretch reason beyond reality if you are going to make sense of every account of healing in the New Testament. Now I simply accept the fact that Jesus was viewed as a healer and many people over the years have experienced healing they cannot explain. I marvel at how Jesus healed without any sense of judgment or stigmatization.
In this story I am troubled by the casual acceptance of slavery (though some interpreters would say the sick man was a servant). Regardless, he didn’t really seem free, even though his centurion owner or supervisor seems to be a caring man. Thank goodness modern Christians don’t take a literalistic approach to interpretation and try to justify slavery based on this story. What outrages me, however, is that some Christians in the 21st century still try to justify stigma or discrimination against women or gay persons or persons living with HIV based on some phrase or text of Scripture, without taking into account ancient contexts or contemporary understandings.
The good news in this text is that God’s love in Jesus Christ is available to us, whether we meet Jesus in person or whether his healing care is transmitted long-distance. I believe God uses scientists, doctors, nurses, and medicines to mediate the healing powers that were attributed to the historical Jesus.
Recently in India I met with over 200 adults and about 125 children who a decade ago would have died from AIDS, but now are living positively with HIV. Thanks to generic medicines, health, and care provided through a clinic financially supported by the Center for the Church and Global AIDS, these persons were all living productive lives. To celebrate we held a day long “Festival of Living” in which we gave God thanks, reminded persons of the need to take their medicine faithfully, to use condoms, and to eat nutritious food. There is reason to rejoice in today’s world!
Like the centurion, those of us who are HIV and AIDS activists, are always praying and petitioning for increased help for those who are suffering. Wherever we live in the world, we are called to be advocates for persons infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. As people of faith, we pray for the miracle of healing for all people and for the end of global HIV and AIDS in our lifetime.
To think about:
How does God’s healing happen in today’s world?
How does praying for someone help someone who is ill?
In what ways do you feel you have experienced God’s healing power?
Written by: Dr. Donald E. Messer, Executive Director, Center for the Church and Global AIDS, Centennial, Colorado, USA
Author: Messer, DE (Dr)