23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

THE CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER OF A HEALING MINISTRY
MK 7:31-37
By Rev. Fr. Johnpaul Eselu
In the recent days, the human society has been ravaged by an untold hardship and difficulty. The so called religious ministers have become predators feeding on the needy and the weak. Healing has become highly lucrative. One way or another, the whole society is sick. The most vulnerable has become the most hunted. The sick has been miserably victimized. The most pathetic of all is that all atrocities committed in the name of healing, happen in the name of Christ!
The new age Christian ministries have become our religion’s bane. HEALING! The word at the epicenter of all ministries has become the most abused of all. In this terrible development, faith and trust have been shortchanged.
But in every sphere of life, there exists the true and the false, the quack and the qualified. For any Christian healing ministry to be authentic, it must display the following negations:
(1) NO CONSCRIPTIONS
(2) NO CHARGES
(3) NO STRINGS
These negations were the Christ-like models portrayed in today’s pericope when they brought the deaf and dumb for healing. For any Christian healing ministry to be authentic, it is bound to follow the footprint of Christ in observance of these models.
(1) NO CONSCRIPTIONS
Never was it heard that Christ in any manner or configuration forced any one to accept healing. He never announced himself or his power. In all the biblical chronicles of healing, it was the sick that found Jesus and never the other way round. But Christ was always ready to help as he went about doing good. The evidence from today’s pericope will buttress this point.
• They brought him a deaf man with speech impediment.
• They asked him to lay his hands on him.
• He has done all things well they said.
• The more widely they published it.
• Their admiration was unbounded.
LESSON
• It was clearly indicated that the sick found their way to Jesus.
• They made a supplication to Christ requesting for healing.
• The people’s affirmation of Christ’s perfection is a confirmation that the sick never left unhealed.
• It was the people that went about advertising Christ because of the divine satisfaction they received.
• With an unbounded admiration, they resolved to follow him with NO CONSCRIPTIONS!
MESSAGE
• How did the current healing ministers develop the habit of hunting for people to heal?
Listen to them on televisions, radios, roadsides, commuters buses etc., their exhortations always ended with somewhat compulsive invitation: “COME TO MY MINISTRY AND BE HEALED”
• Our leader never invited anybody. They came, they saw and they were convinced to invite others.
• It is hard to find even circular hospitals advertising on the media. Any hospital that has reasons for advertisement is a failed one. Our people say “Afia oma na ere onwe ya” (a good market needs no adverts)
How much more a Christian healing ministry that goes as much as threaten people with death on Whatsapp if they failed to circulate their message and advertise them.
(2) NO CHARGES
Even a careless observer would notice that in all his life and ministry, Jesus never demanded any payments whatsoever from anyone, whether material, cash or kind. He needed no recompense from the rich Zaccheus let alone the sick who are in dire need. The sick are cured with the power of God. God made no charges for his divine power, and neither did Christ. “You received without charge, give without charge” was Christ’s command! Today’s gospel demonstrates it further.
• He puts his finger into the man’s ears.
• Touched his tongue with spittle.
• Looked up to heaven.
• Sighed and said, “Ephphatha”.
LESSON
• Christ established a divine contact with the sick. He didn’t avoid even the contagious. Because he is MERCY!
• The saliva symbolised the breath of God. The breath is the word, and the word is Christ. The personality of Christ is enough to cure the sick. No other strange thing was needed.
• When Christ looked up to heaven and sighed, he communicated with his father, our God! The power of God is the source of all divine healing.
MESSAGE
• How did our healing ministers invent the idea of money and payments before healing?
This is the current procedure at the healing ministeries: The sick would pay to receive a number card; pay again to see the counselors who would introduce their case to the healer; pay again for an accommodation to wait for their turn to be healed; before finally they would pay for the actual healing.
• Communication to God, breath and a divine touch was Christ’s healing material. Who then invented all the sacrifices and strange unChrist-like materials used by the modern healers?
• Christ never laid blames on any third party. He simply cured the sick. How come the current ministers blame all the village people for one man’s sickness?
• Who invented all the dramatic exhibitions during healing? The pushing, beating, shouting, coercive tendencies and forceful compliances?
(3) NO STRINGS
GO! The usual word of the master after every healing. We hear this word resonate at each phrase after the Master’s mercy-work. Go and sin no more. Take up your mat and Go. Go and show yourself to the priest. Etc. Even the healed who opted to stay were encouraged to Go! This gesture is a clear indication of NO STRINGS attached in works of mercy. Excerpts from the pericope would be more convincing.
• He took him aside in private.
• Away from the crowd.
• Ordered them to tell no one.
LESSON
• It was Christ’s injunction to his apostles never to let their right hand know what the left is doing when charity is involved. We benefit more from the Father when our act of kindness is done in private.
• Deliberate accolades received from the crowd jeopardizes divine benediction.
• The healed had no conscriptive obligation to announce anything to anybody.
MESSAGE
• Today’s healing ministry has become a public display. There would be no healing if the cameras were not in use.
• The aftermath of today’s healing turns to a perpetual manipulation of the sick.
There must be testimony nights. There must be thanksgivings. There must be public broadcasts and displays. There must be conditioned membership.
Can’t the healed “GO IN PEACE” for Christ’s sake?
• Christ’s healing was whole and entire. Nothing like checkups. Today’s healers convert the sick to a perpetual customer. They heal one thing and the customer develops another thing shortly afterwards. There must be sound spiritual reasons why the customer remains in misfortune. The more you look, the less you see!
• WHILE HEALING IS MEANT TO LIFT MEN OUT OF MISERY, TODAY’S HEALERS ENTANGLE MEN DEEPLY INTO IT
ULAGA

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