Here’s A Thought for Feb. 2

Christ our Divine Healer

“And Jesus healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.” (Mark 1: 34)

Have you ever wondered why the vast majority of faith-based hospitals/medical centers have “religious” names? Many hospitals are named Christ, Holy Cross, and Divine Savior; while others are named St. Thomas, St. Peter, St. Elisabeth, St. Mary, St. Vincent, and other saints.

Well, Christians have been leaders in medicine and the building of hospitals because their founder, Jesus of Nazareth, healed the sick during his ministry on earth (see Matt. 9; 10:8; 25: 34-26; Mark 1:29-39). The early church not only endorsed medicine, but championed care for the sick, the terminal ill, and the dying.

As a means of caring for those who were ill, St. Basil of Caesarea founded the first hospital (c. 369). Christian hospitals grew apace, spreading throughout both the East and the West. By the mid-1500s there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries alone that cared for the sick, the terminal ill, and the dying.

The modern hospital owes its origins to the healing Gospel mission of Jesus and Christian compassion conveyed down through the centuries. Evidence of the vast expansion of faith-based hospitals is seen in the legacy of their names: St. Luke’s, Christ Hospital, Methodist, Presbyterian, Mercy, and Lutheran. These were all charitable hospitals, some of which began as foundling hospitals to care for abandoned children.

The Red Cross in 1863 was form as a relief organization for caring for wartime wounded by a Swiss Christian businessman. In 1860, Florence Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St. Thomas Hospital in London. Earlier in 1850, she visited the Lutheran religious community at Kaiserswerth-am-Rhein in Germany, where she observed the Rev. Theodor Fliedner and the Deaconesses working for the sick and the deprived.

In our time, we see Dame Cicely Saunders, who founded the hospice movement by establishing St. Christopher’s Hospice in the south of London in 1967. This is truly a Gospel ministry serving our sisters and brothers who have a terminally disease or who are dying. This ministry affirms the sacredness of God’s gift of human life beginning at the moment of concept to the person’s last breath of life.

Thus, we see that the healing ministry of Christ Jesus affirms his Gospel mission. Thus the Apostle Paul summarized the Gospel as the historical life, death, and resurrection through Jesus Christ through whom sin is atoned for, sinners reconciled to God, and the blessed hope of the resurrection awaits to all who believe.

God’s healing Spirit uses this Gospel message, the message of the Cross to motivate and inspire Christians to continue to follow in the footsteps of Christ our great Physician of body and soul as they continue to bring physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing to our wounded sisters and brothers.

Accordingly, may we continue to sing: “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly, while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high. Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past; safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.” Amen

Chopp is a chaplain emeritus, MDiv, BCC, from Marshall